Posted by Peggy Utley

The drama that played out at the Cincinnati Zoo when a three year old child fell into the moat of an exhibit that housed Harambe, a rare silverback gorilla, resulting in the shooting death of this beautiful animal has brought cries of outrage and protest from critics.

Action taken by the Zoo’s administration saved a human life. Zoo Director Thane Maynard has said in reflection, “they would make the same decision over again”. Celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has defended the difficult decision.

My first thought about the critics is how fast people can judge someone else and how harsh they can be when all the circumstances and conditions are not known. My second thought is a question to the critics: Is the life of a rare gorilla more precious than the life of a human being and especially a child? Another question would be: What if that were your child?

Those in charge know far more about gorillas than the average zoo visitor or animal lover. They understood that the life of the child was in danger by the erratic behavior of Harambe. Yes, there were moments when it looked like Harambe was being gentle with the child. There were also those moments when he violently drug him through the water. How easily he could have bashed the head of the child against the stone enclosure of the moat or broken an arm or leg or even crushed him to death. The zoo keepers knew that the life of the child was endangered and acted in the best interest of the child.

We are living in a time when the blame game is at a peak. People want to blame somebody – the mother, the zoo, God! How can you blame a curious four year old child who climbed over a protective barrier? What parent has not had a moment when they took their eyes off their child and something happened? Could it be that no one is to blame – it just happened! After all, the principal characters in this drama are an innocent, active, curious child and a wild animal with six times the strength of a man.

I am reminded of Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Rather than judge or blame why not rejoice that a child is alive today because those in authority valued the life of a human being over that of an animal.

In His love,

Charles