More than 80 petitions have been started in the three days since zoo officials at the Cincinnati Zoo shot and killed a silverback gorilla named Harambe.
On Saturday a four-year-old boy climbed over a 3-foot barrier, crawled through bushes, and dropped into Harambe’s enclosure. Zookeepers tried to get the gorilla away from the boy with other means, but when members of the Zoo’s Dangerous Animal Team saw what they judged to be erratic and disoriented behavior that put the boy in danger, they made the decision to shoot the Harambe with a rifle. Tranquilizers, they said, would have taken too long to take effect.
Over the last three days, the internet has echoed both outrage over the decision to shoot the 17-year-old Harambe (a member of an endangered species) and debate over where responsibility for his death lies. A video of the event has only added fuel to the fire.
The petitions about Harambe started since Saturday reflect this outrage and debate.
A good deal of these petitions express dissatisfaction with animals being kept in zoos in the first place. This petition, for example, asks for all zoos to be shut down; it’s been supported by nearly 4,400 people.
But we’re seeing the most support for petitions that ask for the boy’s parents to be held responsible for Harambe’s death.
The most popular petition asks the Cincinnati Zoo and the Hamilton County Child Protective Services to get #JusticeforHarambe by holding the child’s parents accountable for the events that transpired and by investigating the child's home environment.
The second most popular petition asks State Representative Denise Driehaus and State Senator Cecil Thomas to enact Harambe's Law. The law would hold a person financially and criminally responsible for any harm that comes to an endangered animal why if he or she enters an exhibit or restricted area at a zoo, sanctuary, or wild animal park.
“Working with these individual gorillas on a daily basis as to educate the public and all four sub-species; Western Lowland, Cross River, Mountain and Eastern Lowland, on their lives, their needs, their plights and the importance of respecting and preserving them, has been at the center of my work. There certainly are laws to protect them in the wild, but we also need to have laws protecting them from negligence of the public visitors,” writes Annie Gutierrez writes in her petition, which has been supported by more than 113,000 people.
The Cincinnati Police Department has said that they aren’t aware of any intentions to charge the boy's parents, according to CNN.
In the same article, Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard refused to place blame on the parents and defended the enclosure barriers as exceeding required protocols
The Zoo plans to reopen the exhibit to the public after a thorough assessment to ensure it is completely safe for all parties.
More than 270 people hope that the Zoo will also consider building a memorial for Harambe.
What change would you like to see come out of this? Tell us in the comments or start a petition.