Cincinnati Zoo Reopens Gorilla Exhibit Where Boy Fell

Cincinnati resident Rebekah Ridgeway was visiting with her 7-year-old daughter as the exhibit reopened and said while the previous barrier was good, she feels more comfortable as a parent with the new fencing that visitors can see over but that blocks someone from climbing through. A western lowland gorilla named Harambe, who was 17, dragged the boy off. Zoo officials shot the gorilla.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has scheduled an afternoon news conference, in which he's expected to discuss his conclusions after a review into the family's actions. "We work hard every day to make sure that the Cincinnati Zoo is completely safe for visitors, guests, families, and children".

Others said the boy's mother should have watched him more closely.

"The zoo should have probably taken better precautions since it's a place kids go", Krista Ward said.

Sparks said it was an "unfortunate" way for her daughter to learn what can happen if you don't stay close to your parents.

Tribute to Harambe at the reopened Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla World exhibit
Tribute to Harambe at the reopened Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla World exhibit

The new barrier at Gorilla World.

Deters said he was "a bit taken aback by some folks' moral equivalency of human to animal life". The public barrier has been raised to 42 inches, solid wood beams have been added to the top with knotted rope netting fixed at the bottom. "A gorilla is a wild animal and, by definition, unsafe and unpredictable", he said, echoing sentiments of animal experts who were asked to discuss the incident.

SAEN last month filed a complaint accusing the zoo of negligence in maintaining the gorilla habitat and seeking the maximum penalty of $10,000. "And they felt that this boy's life was in jeopardy and they made the painful choice to do what they did". Doing so may result in civil and/or criminal penalties. Maynard says the zoo is cooperating with that investigation.

"This happened so quickly... there's nothing the mother could have done", he said, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.

John Linehan, the president of Zoo New England which oversees Stone Zoo, released a statement regarding the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo. Police said he had scrapes on his head and knee, but was alert and talking when rescued, despite the fall into the moat. The exhibit will have a new barrier that will make it harder for the public to get into the habitat, CNN News reports.

  • Sheila Mcguire