My thoughts on Harambe
I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last 24 hours thinking about Harambe and the Cincinnati Zoo debacle.
If you’ve had your head in the ground and have no idea what I’m talking about, a three year old boy managed to get through the safety barriers and fell into the gorilla exhibit. A large gorilla named Harambe took interest in the boy, dragged him around the exhibit, and then was shot so that the boy could be rescued.
Multiple Sides to the Story
Queue the social activism arm of America. This story is a hot one, and so naturally it’s caused the masses to turn on their computers and share their thoughts. Have you ever stopped to read comments with a completely unbiased mind? It’s rather fun. Americans are stupid, and what they say sometimes hardly passes for coherent English. There are, however, a few who have managed to articulate their thoughts and you can group them into the following arguments:
Argument for Human Life
This viewpoint argues that under all circumstances, human life is more valuable than that of another creature. The human should be spared at all costs. It seems the the zoo and its staff used this mentality, although I’m sure they were still concerned for the life of their beloved gorilla. I’ve read how people are concerned that the boy was defenseless and therefore we were required to intervene. It’s “just an animal.” after all, right? Why do we keep animals in zoos anyway. Had the zoo not been there, this would have never happened. Is this the correct mentality?
Argument for Animal Rights
At the time of writing, there are over 260,000 signatures in support of a “Justice for Harambe” petition on Change.org. These folks, along with hundreds of thousands of others throughout the world, feel that Harambe’s death could have been prevented. The Gorilla was in his own habitat and the boy was the intruder. Mom could have/should have prevented her son from entering the enclosure. Critics claim that the mom was negligent in her duties and should be investigated. Had the mom done her job, the child would have never fallen in and the gorilla should still be alive. Is this the correct mentality?
Argument for Natural Selection
One of my most favorite arguments to come out of this situation is that of “Natural Selection” that those who are best adapted for the circumstance will survive. In this case, natural selection would dictate that the gorilla has the advantage and the boy would perish, should the gorilla will it. But did the gorilla want to harm the child? Do we allow nature to take it’s course? Is this the correct mentality?
Harambe Protecting the Boy
A video released earlier today shows that Harambe may have attempted to protect the child. The gorilla appears to hold the boy’s hand, pull up his pants, and otherwise care for the boy. Yes, Harambe’s behavior may have been unusual or erratic. I invite you to try and act normal when there are a bunch of humans standing above you freaking out. Yes, watching a little boy get dragged about like a doll by a gorilla is scary. I doubt this action was indicative of ill will towards the boy. Is this how gorilla’s move their young? Did the gorilla feel threatened and move the kid as quickly and as best he knew how? Oh if animals could talk.
What Shall We Do With Mom?
So we’ve talked about the boy, the gorilla, and the overall circumstances. What about mom? She’s the bad one, right? Shame on you mom for letting your child into the exhibit.
Anybody who spends time around kids knows that the little ones are very skilled at getting into and out of places that they shouldn’t. Anybody who spends time around kids knows that regardless of what you tell them, there are some lessons they just insist on learning on their own. Pretty sure this is one of those cases.
Now, if mom was 100′ away, and off looking at the chimpanzees when her kid fell into the exhibit, then yes, let’s
tie her to the stake, soak her in petrol and light her ablaze for the world to see, prosecute her to the fullest extent possible, allow the state to come in and determine her suitability as a parent, etc.
If mom was onsite, near her child, and was doing her best under the circumstances, that’s all we can ask for. An investigation may take place, but I’m willing to wager that her parenting skills are far better than some others out there.
What I Would Have Done
DISCLAIMER: I’m no zoo expert, and this is my armchair opinion, but there are a few things I would have done differently.
- Immediately remove all visitors from the gorilla exhibit and close off the area. I wager that the situation’s outcome would differ had there not been so many people shrieking and screaming. The gorilla’s behavior would have mellowed out. I think the humans may have had an easier time making rational decisions too. Get the people out and let the decision makers do their job without undue influence.
- Tranquilize the gorilla. Yes, zookeepers said that the sedative would not take effect quickly and the child would continue to be in danger. I get that. But why not try the tranquilizer first, and have the rifle on reserve? The response team is trained, and trained by the local sheriff’s department if I understand correctly. The marksman was clearly skilled enough to hit his intended target, even in close proximity to the child. Have the guy take aim and stand at the ready.
- Attempt to rescue the boy. With the people gone, and hopefully with the tranquilizer having some effect, I’d get in there, grab the boy, pat the gorilla on the head and run like hell to get out of there before the beast woke up. Again, my sniper buddy is standing at the ready should anything go awry.
Result? Gorilla is out for a short, drug-induced nap, the boy is alive with some bumps and bruises, mom is getting one of those child leash backpacks, the zoo staff are called heroes, and Harambe lives on to make little harambes and propagate the species.
Let’s Channel That Energy
Can you imagine the good we could do if we took all the energy and chatter about this incident and could use it to address the Refugee crisis? What about babies whose lives are ended through abortion (5,000+ in the last two days if you go by 2014 numbers.) What about the veterans, homeless, or the animals in our shelters? Don’t they all have a right to live too? Harambe may be gone, but you can still fight for life wherever it exists. Get out there, help a stranger, smile at someone. Acts of kindness and goodness sometimes are more influential in preserving human life than you may expect.
What do you think? Drop a comment below and share your thoughts about Harambe, Mom, or anything else in this article.