Amanda O'Donoughue

Zoo-keeper breaks silence to hit back at activists who accused her of needlessly killing a gorilla to save boy’s life

A zoo-keeper has hit back at activists who accused her of needlessly killing a gorilla to save a four-year-old boy.

Amanda O’Donoughue broke a 12-month silence to explain why she gave the order to shoot the silverback after the boy fell into it’s enclosure and was being dragged around by the animal.

She said the boy was in grave danger and that activists who said the 17-year-old beast was protecting the boy were wrong.

They had accused her of animal cruelty over the execution of the gorilla called Harambe at Cincinnati Zoo in 2016.

But O’Donoughue spoke out after activists said new video footage had emerged which proved they were right.

Her passionate Facebook post went viral and racked up almost a million shares after she explained why the gorilla had to die.

She said:

“I have watched this video over again, and with the silverback’s posturing, and tight lips, it’s pretty much the stuff of any keeper’s nightmares, and I have had MANY while working with them.

“This job is not for the complacent. Gorillas are kind, curious, and sometimes silly, but they are also very large, very strong animals.

“Harambe was most likely not going to separate himself from that child without seriously hurting him first – due to mere size and strength, not malicious intent.

“Harambe reaches for the boys hands and arms, but only to position the child better for his own displaying purposes.

“Males do very elaborate displays when highly agitated, slamming and dragging things about.

“Typically they would drag large branches, barrels and heavy weighted balls around to make as much noise as possible.

“Not in an effort to hurt anyone or anything (usually) but just to intimidate.”

The footage shows Harambe picking up the boy and dragging him through water as witnesses — including the boy’s mum — screamed.

Harambe Animal lovers slammed zoo chiefs for their decision to kill Harambe — who had the child huddled between his legs when he was killed.

Responding to questions about why the zoo took the decision to shoot dead, rather than tranquillise, the gorilla, O’Donoughue said it could have taken too long.

She added:

“Harambe would’ve taken too long to become immobilised, and could have really injured the child in the process as the drugs used may not work quickly enough depending on the stress of the situation and the dose.

“Also Harambe would’ve have drowned in the moat if immobilised in the water, and possibly fallen on the boy trapping him and drowning him as well.”

Activists also turned their anger toward the parents of the boy while mourning the death of the gorilla and lighting candles and holding “Rest in Peace” signs at a vigil after the incident.

“That child’s life was in danger. At the end of the day, it falls on the parents. No one else,” said Vanessa Hammonds, 27, who said she flew in from Houston to attend the vigil.

Authorities have not identified the boy.

Michelle Gregg, who identified herself on Facebook as his mother, asked others not to judge her because “accidents happen.”

A family statement expressed condolences for the animal’s death.

“We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff,” the statement said.

“We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla.”

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