Face of the day

Harambe, a western lowland gorilla, was fatally shot at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Photo / Supplied
Harambe, a western lowland gorilla, was fatally shot at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Photo / Supplied

Today’s face of the day is an animal not a human being. He was given a name because that is what we do with pets, we name them. When we take a beloved pet to the Vet to have it put down we say that it was put down or euthanised. We do not say that the vet killed our pet. If we have two pets from the same litter we don’t say they came from the same family.We don’t talk about a pet’s brothers and sister or Aunts and Uncles. When one dies before the other we do not refer to it as a tragedy. When we shoot an animal because we genuinely believed it was going to harm a child we do not call it a murder and we certainly do not expect an animal rights group to sue us.

Media describing today’s face of the day as if he was a human being is the most sensational piece of personification I have ever seen. An animal was shot to protect a human child. Someone needs to tell these journalists that Planet of the Apes was a movie not a documentary.Get over it already.

Harambe reportedly lost his mother and brother in a gas accident at a zoo 14 years ago.
The Mirror claims to have unearthed a Brownsville Herald article which reported Harambe was just a baby when Kayla, who was 10, and her one-year-old son, Makoko, died in a gas leak at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas in 2002.


Another female, two-year-old Uzuri, also died and several others were injured.
Deputy zoo director and zoologist Patrick Burchfield told the paper at the time another young male was in a “serious condition”. It’s not clear if that was Harambe.

A video of Harambe taken about a year before the accident has been shared on social media. It shows Harambe, aged about one, affectionately hugging the keeper as she shows him off to schoolchildren.

“Here is a video clip of Harambe when we went to the Gladys Porter Zoo on a classroom field trip. To this day all of my students have fond memories of Harambe,” Dan Van Coppenolle wrote on Facebook.


Harambe, a 200kg western lowland gorilla, was shot dead on Saturday by workers at the Cincinnati Zoo who feared he would kill Isiah after he tumbled into the enclosure.

Witnesses said Isiah had wanted to get into the exhibit and climbed over a one-metre barrier, falling 4.6 metres into a moat. Zookeepers shot the gorilla after he violently dragged and tossed the child, officials said.

The boy’s mother said on Facebook that he suffered a concussion and scrapes but is otherwise fine. The family has also received death threats.

Animal lovers continue to express outrage over Harambe’s killing, with online petitions at change.org drawing thousands of signatures demanding Justice for Harambe.


The death of the gorilla also prompted the animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now to file a negligence complaint on Tuesday against the zoo with the US Department of Agriculture. The group is seeking the maximum penalty of $US10,000 ($13,833).

– news.com.au


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  • Tony Norriss

    The zoo staff are on a no-win here. If they took some other action (such as trying to tranquilize the gorilla) that turned out to be unsuccessful, and the boy got killed, then there would be international outrage because the zoo staff hadn’t shot the gorilla when they had the chance.

    • phronesis

      Not just outrage. I would assume they would have been held legally responsible in the same way a dog owner would (or should) be.

  • Woody

    I think that shooting an animal who is risking the life of a child is the correct response.

  • Usaywot

    Meanwhile how many Mokos are there?

  • Tiberius

    Didn’t we have some similar here last year with a tiger?

  • Davo42

    Where is all the outrage from these keyboard activists about the rampant poaching and killing of Gorillas is their natural habitat? I am not a fan of zoo’s at all, but this is an unfortunate and sad situation which resulted in the death of a captive born and bred animal. If it was my kid in there I would have shot the Gorilla in a heartbeat. Think of the guilt of the zoo staff that had to kill their gorilla, if anybody had the right to make the decision to shot the Gorilla it was them.

    • Seriously?

      I admire the keepers. They must form a bond with such impressive animals, and making that decision must have been hard. Clearly they did the right thing.

  • Doc45

    While I agree with you, SB you need to reflect on the fact that evolution teaches us that we have the same DNA as a cabbage, we are only 4 chromosomes away from being a whale and that only a handful of eons from looking just like Harambe. We can crush babies skulls with crude forceps a short time before they join us in the world and through them against the wall soon after they do and there is nary a murmur. The community cant have it all ways – either we are different as humans or Harambe has equal or greater rights. Either we can kill babies and apes or we kill neither.

    • spanishbride

      We can agree on one thing Doc45. A lack of respect for the value of human life has led to many putting a higher value on animal life. It is no surprise that a human child’s life is valued so low when we legally abort them every day and have a society where child abuse often results in death.

      • jaundiced

        I agree with you on the disproportionate hysteria. Those facing that situation really had no other choice, even if it turned out that the guerrilla had no intention to harm the child.

        However, being ‘just an animal’ doesn’t mean a black and white difference from humans. Looking into that face, I have no doubt that there is a character and consciousness there that isn’t too distant from ours.

        Studies of whale brains show that their capacity for (what we humans call) empathy, is huge. Watching the worker abusing calves at the abattoir makes you question our belief that we are above animals on the empathy scale.

      • Usaywot

        Yes, I agree entirely. I hate seeing groups out weeping over beached whale and forcing them back to sea. What the whales are doing is something natural to them. They should be left to do what nature intended. As for the people weeping over them? What can I say? Nutters who interfere in nature but couldn’t care less about beaten or aborted babies.

        • jaundiced

          Don’t be so hard on those helping beached whales. Its just possible some of them don’t vote Green and also care about beaten babies.

        • Seriously?

          But isn’t a gorilla killing a human just a part of nature? Natural selection in action you might think.

      • KatB

        I agree with you about the lack of respect for human life we have SB, however I would suggest we don’t actually legally abort babies every day, I would say most would be aborted illegally. That’s how little we view human life that we bend the abortion laws to make it the free for all we see today. I’m always astounded at the PETA celebs that have had abortions that want to attack somebody for wearing fur.

        • spanishbride

          I assume you are referring to the loopholes of all loopholes, the reference to the mother’s mental health?
          Abortionist: ” Will carrying this child to term threaten your mental health? ”
          Mother: ” yes it will. ”
          Abortionist: ” Abortion approved.”

          • KatB

            Yes exactly. We have a lot of mentally ill people. The sad part is, a lot do end up with mental health problems after having their quick fix and a lot then carry the burden on their own.

  • hookerphil

    I read a F/B thingee from a person who had been with gorilla’s for years, both in the wild and captivity in zoos. She wrote about how extremely strong they are and stated would have shot it in a moment as much as she loves them.

  • Hobbes

    It’s a difficult one . Firstly, what about the parent? If that was my child (and it wouldn’t have got into the enclosure in the first place) I would be in that moat trying to save my child even at the risk of my own. Not outside whining “Mommy is here baby” and “Mommy loves you”. That sums them up to me. I agree that the zoo staff were in a no win situation, but at the very least the parents should be charged and sued for the cost of the incident including the considerable value of the animal. It’s a tragedy caused by a dipstick parent.

    • I have a friend whose daughter got too close to the tiger enclosure (a zoo worker left a gate open) the tiger was behind a cage, but was able to reach through and grab the child (it pretty much took her face off) her mother did the only thing she could and shoved her fist down it’s throat until it let the girl go and zoo officials managed to get on the scene.
      the whole thing was very very quick.

      (happy ended to the story, the little girl and her mother both survived, both had to have a LOT of plastic surgery to repair the damage. this was a zoo in South Africa)

      • kereru

        What a horrifying experience for mother and child. I imagine the scars would be more than physical after a traumatic experience like that.

    • JohnO

      The Zoo was extremely negligent in only having a 1 metre high wall stopping access of children to an extremely dangerous animal. My 3 year old boy was routinely finding his way over a 1.3 metre fence until we made a few alterations to stop him getting out on the shared driveway. What about a bit of common sense in designing these Zoo enclosures especially with a view to stopping children and deranged adults gaining access to zoo creatures and putting the animal’s lives in danger when they do so.

      • dennis

        Obviously the zoo fences are not as good NZ swimming pool fences.

  • Damon Mudgway

    Here’s the irony: if a human male in a similar situation was believed on reasonable grounds to be a threat to the safety or life of the same child, and was shot by Police because of the fact, would there be such an outcry? Are we honestly saying an animal has more right to potentially harm a person than a human? This whole thing stinks to high heaven, and is yet another example of why America really is screwed.

    I guess we know where New Zealand’s MSM look to as an example of popular journalism.

  • LesleyNZ

    Spot on. This is so like the Cecil the lion saga. I saw this story the other day and when I got up to the segment quoted here I stopped reading and thought how ridiculous and how sad. So many on social media have expressed their belief that this gorilla’s life is worth more than a precious little human life. My thoughts turned to the unborn baby – no wonder so many these days don’t give a toss about the status and life of the unborn baby.In their eyes a gorilla’s life is most likely far more precious than a little unborn human baby.

    • intelligentes candida diva

      No not like Cecil the Lion The lion was chased stalked and killed The Gorilla had a child in its grasp so very different I say

      • LesleyNZ

        To me the public reaction and response was similar – as if a human being had died.

  • tjb

    Shoot to kill was the only option after that stupid kid fell into the cage.

    Blame the kid and his parent, sure. But the gorilla had to be shot.

  • Eiselmann

    There is irony that many of the people most outraged by the shooting of this gorilla would also be among those who would be vocal and supportive of the ‘black lives matter’ campaign. If the zoo had waited until another option was ready and then hoped that the gorilla didn’t lash out and got it wrong and the child was killed, you could imagine many of those same outraged people alongside the ‘black lives matter’ protesters outside the zoo.

    Already had a conversation like this with one friend who had to try to reconcile their conflicting outrage positions.

  • Seriously?

    There is an interesting discussion lurking behind this incident.

    It seems so clear that the keepers did the right thing, but it has made me wonder why I think that. Why do I value the life of person above that of a gorilla, and do so without it seeming to be a hard decision?

    I think I do it only because I am a human – I have not been able to come up with another rationale. But that doesn’t seem to be a very sensible justification. Understandable yes, but I’d hope there was more to it than that.

    • kereru

      At base, I believe it is a matter of what you consider the value of a human life to be. If we are just naked apes, it throws up all kinds of moral and ethical issues.

      If we all evolved then what special value is there for human beings? After all, you only have to believe that certain people are a sub-species and you can justify genocide. If you follow evoluntionary beliefs to their logical conclusion – that we are nothing more than evolved animals, and the survival of the fittest is your ideal – then it makes the way clear to decide that an ‘impure’ race should taken out of the gene pool, the baby should be aborted, and the infirm and elderly, euthanised.

      However, if you believe that we are made in the image of God and that each of us is a valued, unique individual, then life is precious and meaningful.

      • Seriously?

        That could be a valid explanation for your reaction in the situation, but not for mine. I don’t believe your god exists, let alone that he created me be that in his image or otherwise. And yet I too instinctively place a higher value on this child’s life than I do on the gorilla’s.

        I’m beginning to have a grudging admiration for those that think it was wrong to shot the gorilla, even if I don’t agree with them.

        • kereru

          I was responding to your perceptive statement that ‘there’s an interesting discussion lurking behind this incident’. I agree, and was merely suggesting that a view of the essential value of human life cannot come from relativist thinking. We need an objective standard to draw from, a moral law which applies to all humanity equally.

          You say you instinctively place a higher value on the child’s life than that of a gorilla. So do I. And, as it’s instinctive to want to protect the weak, what about those who have no qualms about abusing or even beheading children? We’d call them monsters, and rightly so. But using relativist logic (true for you, but not for me) it’s true for those who think nothing of it, so we must leave it at that. He’s entitled to his opinion. But that is a deeply unsatisfying conclusion to make, so we’d most likely make a moral judgment and condemn it.

          Relativist thinking is, in essence, self-contradictory. If a relativist says that everything is relative, they expect their statement to apply to all statements except their own – which is similar to stating that ‘all generalisations are false’.

          • Seriously?

            Sorry if I misunderstood.

            I was trying to get people to think about why they thought the zoo keeper was right, rather than just wallow in it.

            I’m not sure what you mean by relativist logic. I do not believe here is a truth for one person that different from the truth for another – a truth is something objectively provable.

            I think we do have a base set of morals, an objective standard to draw upon – moral “truths” if you like but that is a bad word for them. They are embodied in the laws that we have built up over a long time to regulate what people are not allowed to do. Don’t harm others, don’t steal peoples things, don’t have sexual relations with minors, and so on. They have come about over a long period of time from the work of moral and legal philosophers, and ultimately the public’s acceptance of them as rules by which we should live. But they are not really “truths” in that they are not immutable: if we subsequently decide we think there are better laws to make we change them, such as allowing homosexual marriage.

            But on top of that is another layer of morals which I think are subjective (relativist if that is what you mean by that). What I think it is wrong to do even though it may be legal, and what you think it is wrong even if legal. In relation to those we can have different moral codes. I think it is morally wrong to teach a child to be of a particular religious persuasion, as opposed them learning about a wide variety of religions. Or to take a topic from a few days ago on here I think it is morally wrong for a male child to be circumcised. I have a whole host of moral beliefs that I appreciate are subjective. They are not objective moral “truths”, as much as I may like them to be.

  • intelligentes candida diva

    4 points for me
    1. Excuses excuses for the parents there was quite a gap from the fence to the area the child would have went over, they are in a wild animal area hello and you have a toddler …hmm yea nah
    2. I think a child over a ape definitely. If it was one of my babies of course I would want immediate action and then a slap or to slap someone.
    3. Why didnt the zoo tranquilize the animal
    4 Damm lucky the animal didnt then fall on top of the child when shot that would have got interesting…….