People will never fully understand what Harambe — a Western lowland gorilla who lived at the Cincinnati Zoo — was thinking when a small boy fell into his enclosure on Saturday. But many are mourning Harambe, and questioning whether zoo officials really needed to shoot him to save the boy.
Two past incidents where a child fell into the animal’s enclosure show gorillas actually coming to the rescue of the children in peril.
“We know of two cases, Jersey Zoo in the U.K. and a zoo in Chicago, where a person falling into a gorilla enclosure was actually saved by a gorilla,” Gisela Kaplan, an adjunct professor at the Center for Neuroscience and Animal Behavior at the University of New England in Australia, told The Dodo. “These events shed a light on gorilla behavior even in captivity.”
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