Harambe was a Western lowlands gorilla

The Western lowland #Gorilla is one of four subspecies of gorilla living on the continent of Africa. With a current population of about 100,000 individuals, it can be found in the lowland forest region of central Africa.

All gorillas suffer from the threat of hunting and habitat loss due to farming, logging or mining. But the Western lowlands gorilla is also threatened by the exotic animal trade and Ebola disease. Its population has declined by 80% over the past 20 years and as a result, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists it as a critically endangered species. According to the WWF website, protecting the Western lowland gorilla from extinction requires several programs such as protecting its habitat, limiting human activity and creating an Ebola vaccine for gorillas.

Statistics show zoos are not 100% safe

According to a National Geographic article published on May 30, 2016, there were 42 animal deaths by humans at accredited zoos since 1990. This information is found on the Born Free USA’s Exotic Animal Incidents database. There were also 15 human deaths and 110 human injuries.

Searching the same database for non-accredited zoos, facilities that do not meet the standards to become accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, there were 45 animal deaths by humans, 17 human deaths, and 114 human injuries. So over the past 25 years, there were 87 animals killed, 32 people killed, and 224 people injured at zoos in the United States.

Cincinnati Zoo’s Gorilla World reopens

On June 7, 2016, Cincinnati #Zoo reopened the Gorilla World Exhibit. To help make the exhibit safer, a new fence was built that is 42 inches high, just six inches taller than the previous fence. Rope netting was also installed so that children would not be able to climb underneath the fence.

Reporters from the Mirror were onsite to witness the reopening of the infamous exhibit. Photos showed children using the new netting as a ladder and video footage showed one child attempting to climb the fence before an elderly man, presumably a family member, told the child to “don’t jump”. The child obeyed. To date, no further information has been announced regarding whether extra safety or security measures have been established except for the extra 6 inches of fence and netting. 

Zoos will not close so people must be controlled

In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as zoos. All wild animals would be living happy and safe in preserves or sanctuaries. But this is not a perfect world and zoos will not be closing down anytime soon as long as they continue to make money. Zoos also provide a unique educational resource and many accredited facilities provide funds for conservation and help maintain endangered species’ genetic diversity through breeding programs.

However, zoos can no longer allow people to get anywhere near a wild animal considered to be potentially dangerous, such as lions, elephants, tigers, and gorillas. All zoos must create habitats where visitors can never fall or intentionally climb into an animal’s habitat. For example, at Roger Williams Zoo located in Rhode Island, the Snow Leopard habitat consists of a glass barrier and netting going over top of the exhibit. Of course this is to prevent the leopards from escaping as they can jump up to 20 feet high. But this also prevents people from getting into the exhibit.

It appears that Cincinnati Zoo’s new fence at the Gorilla World Exhibit failed to ensure that no child or adult ever falls into the gorillas’ habitat again either by accident or on purpose. The one lesson that should have been learned from young Isaiah’s fall and Harambe’s death is that to keep people safe at zoos, you have to make sure that the animals are kept safe from the people. #Animal Advocacy