As of this writing there are more than 250,000 signatures on a petition to have the Mom whose three-year-old fell into a gorilla enclosure, charged with child neglect. Like parents everywhere I watched the footage of this little one being dragged through the water by the gorilla as his Mother cried out, “Oh God, please protect him.” (Read this open letter to her here.)
A quarter of a million people have come together to take action against her, a Mom who must have felt a heart-stopping fear the likes of which most of us will thankfully never know. Despite witnesses making statements that show she was not to blame (source), mob mentality fueled by social media and misinformation has taken over.
While many are asserting the gorilla shouldn’t have been shot I feel safe in saying that 100% of them have never had their 40 pound child being tossed around by a 400 pound animal.
Having said all that, I have to tell you that I’ve found myself wondering where all this outrage on behalf of gorillas has been prior to this incident.
What if these same people took a breath and focused their attention on the real issue?
The extinction of Silverback gorillas.
Rather than screaming at a Mom who lost track of her child, (something that has happened to as many good parents as bad), I suggest they take a minute to learn about what humans as a whole have done to gorillas and what they personally can do to make a difference.
How many of these 250,000 know that there are only about 700 Silverbacks (aka Mountain gorillas) left in existence today? (source) More importantly, were they aware of this horrifying information BEFORE this gorilla was sacrificed to save a child?
Do they understand that these stunning animals are endangered in large part because humans are destroying their natural habitats? That’s not all. Humans poach gorillas for their body parts and even to turn them into something called bush meat. (source)
And what about zoos and their affect on gorillas? Why aren’t we collectively outraged that gorillas are captive at all? Can’t we make the case that it was in fact captivity that killed this gorilla? That’s what PETA has to say about the incident. (source)
Did you know that a great many gorillas in captivity actually have to take heart medication because they frequently suffer from cardiac disease, while many can be emotionally distressed – even crying at times? (source)
My point is this:
You SHOULD be angry that a gorilla was shot, but not at the Mother of a little boy and not at the zookeeper who had to pull the trigger.
You should be angry that we’re losing these gorillas because WE as humans are causing their extinction. You should be angry about how we treat MOST animals.
Rather than type angry comments online or sign a petition to point a finger at a Mom who was likely doing her best (when did we become a lynch mob who no longer believes Americans are innocent until proven guilty?), I would be far more impressed by 250,000 people donating any amount of money toward preserving Silverback gorillas in the wild.
My suggestion is that you honor the gorilla named Harambe by making a donation to the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. Your gift will directly support gorilla monitoring, life-saving medical interventions, and health studies to save the critically endangered gorillas.
That’s something that will do infinitely more good than spouting hate on the internet.
If you feel strongly about how we treat animals then do something meaningful and do it without hate.
Sher Bailey is a writer in the Midwest who believes the power of humor, Mod Podge, and grandkids can fix most problems in life. You can find her at SherBailey.com.