Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Justice For the Gorilla, And Never Mind the Humans
Mourners at a Memorial Day vigil outside Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Photo by John Minchillo/AP
We mourn the loss last weekend of Harambe, the 17-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla killed while either entertaining and/or threatening a four-year-old who somehow slipped away from his mother and fell into the gorilla's enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo as onlookers screamed, which likely didn't help. Zoo officials, determining a tranquilizer gun might further agitate Harambe and endanger the boy, made the controversial and difficult decision to shoot Harambe. Defending the move, Zoo director Thane Maynard declared it "a sad day all the way around,” but insisted, “The right choice was made."
Hah, said a furious, sanctimonious, all-knowing and - once it was determined the family was black - racist Internet mob of animal lovers, mom shamers, dad blamers, parenting and/or gorilla experts, and thousands more with axes to grind. Quick as you can say "Get a life," the outrage had fueled "Prayers for Harambe" and "Justice For Harambe" Facebook pages (130,000 likes) to "raise awareness of Harambe’s murder,” a petition (400,000 names) urging city officials to investigate the child's "home environment," another petition (140,000) calling for passage of a new Harambe's Law to punish anyone harming or killing an animal, a charge by PETA that “Harambe paid with his life for others’ negligence,” a memorial, a protest, a call for a boycott, and a hit piece on the child's father, who wasn't even there but it turns out had a criminal history before turning his life around.
Trying to staunch the flow, the boy's beleaguered mom took to Facebook to thank God and zoo staff that her son was fine, and recognize those "grieving the loss of their gorilla.” In response, she was hit with so much vitriol - "U should have been shot" - she deactivated her account. The insults kept coming: "The blood of this innocent gorilla is on your handsI...Cincinnati has more than enough spoiled 4 year olds with parents who don't watch over their children! We only had 1 Harambe!...These people should spend some time in a cage themselves - I wouldn't mind seeing them spayed and neutered...They should have thrown the 'Mom' to rescue her child."
People, get a grip, and some perspective. Yes, it's sad: Harambe's possibly preventable death, his life in captivity, the climate change, loss of habitat and other human meddling that got him there and rendered his and so many other species endangered. What else is sad: All the other deaths that don't spark Facebook pages and petitions and outrage, the innocent black boys, the Gazans and Iraqis and Syrians, the up to 1,000 desperate refugees, moms and dads and kids, who drowned last week, and that baby photographed cradled in the arms of a German rescuer, a father of three and music therapist who found the him or her in the cold water, “like a doll, arms outstretched.” When he saw it was dead, "I began to sing to comfort myself..Just six hours ago, this child was alive." So. Weep and rant for Harambe if you wish, but for the love of God, weep and rant for the children too.