Zoo Defends Killing Gorilla

Although reports say a boy "fell" into a gorilla cage at a the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the zoo says the boy "climbed through a public barrier." Harambe the gorilla was shot and killed on the spot. A YouTube video showing part of the incident received more than 14 million views so far, and people on both sides of the argument are outraged. 

With the hashtag #JusticeforHarambe, animal activists and others question the zoo's decision and blame the parents.


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says this situation is another example of why people shouldn't gawk at animals in captivity.

The zoo explained the decision in a media statement, in a Facebook post, and during a press conference. The director scolded people who dispute the decision, saying they don't understand silverback behavior and weren't there to assess the situation. He has a point: people view a one-minute clip on YouTube and decide that the gorilla was holding the boy's hand and helping him to safety. But what do we know? 


Discussion Starters: 

  • What's your view, given what you have read about the situation? Did the zoo act appropriately? What else would you like to know in order to make a judgement call?  
  • Assess the zoo's three communications:  media statement, Facebook post, and press conference. What, if anything, can management do differently to address the criticism?