October 26, 2016

Family will not sue Cincinnati zoo over child-gorilla incident

Flowers lay around a bronze statue of a gorilla and her baby outside the Cincinnati Zoo’s Gorilla World exhibit, two days after a boy tumbled into its moat and officials were forced to kill Harambe, a Western lowland gorilla, in Cincinnati, Ohio, US May 30, 2016

The family of a 3-year-old boy who fell into an animal enclosure, prompting the killing of an endangered gorilla, said on Wednesday that it would not sue the Cincinnati Zoo over the incident.

The family, whose name has been withheld by police, said through a spokeswoman, Gail Myers, that the boy was doing well. They had said earlier on social media that he had a concussion and scrapes. They asked well-wishers not to send them financial gifts, but to make any donations to the zoo.

A 17-year-old western lowland silverback gorilla named Harambe was shot and killed by zoo staff on Saturday after the boy fell into its enclosure.

Witnesses have said the boy expressed a desire to get into the enclosure and climbed over a 3-foot (1-meter) barrier, then fell 15 feet (4.6 m) into a moat.

Cincinnati police are investigating whether to bring charges against the child’s parents. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said in a statement that police would confer with his office after they had looked into the matter.

The family declined to comment on the investigation.

Mounting outrage over the killing of Harambe has sparked criticism of the zoo and the child’s parents. Online petitions at change.org have more than 676,000 signatures demanding “Justice for Harambe.”

The Cincinnati Police Department released on Wednesday recordings of emergency calls made by the child’s mother and witnesses.

“My son fell in with the gorillas. There’s a male gorilla standing over him. I need someone to contact the zoo, please,” the mother told an operator. “He’s dragging my son …”

The animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now said on Tuesday it would file a negligence complaint against the zoo with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group is seeking the maximum penalty of $10,000.

U.S. zoos are left to decide under federal rules how to make animal exhibits safe.

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