This past weekend, a terribly unfortunate incident was reported at the Cincinnati Zoo – a four year old boy fell into the Gorilla enclosure, and the Zoo authorities had to shoot the Gorilla to save the boy’s life.
When I heard about this news item for the first time, I myself was at D.C.’s Smithsonian National Zoo with my four year old, and this is possibly why I feel so strongly about this, and couldn’t resist writing this post.
My initial reaction to the news was of shock – shock that a four year old fell into the enclosure, shock that the Zoo authorities did not find any other way of keeping the boy safe.
I felt like something could have been done – the Zoo authorities could have gone in, the animal could have been tranquilized, just something, something other than shooting.
But as I read more (and I read A LOT) about the incident, I felt that the Zoo authorities had done what they could have – they tried distracting (didn’t work), they considered the tranquilizer (but apparently it would have taken some time to come into effect, and the child would not have been safe). I am still unsure about why people were not sent in, but that’s not the point here.
At the end of the day, they (the Zoo authorities) placed a human life over an animal’s, and that led to wide-spread social media outrage.
What is that you ask?
Oh well, the phenomena where the very-perfect-people-who-never-make-any-mistakes decide to come on the internet, and preach to the imperfect-rest on how to live their lives.
The Outrage Business
Before I continue, let me make one thing clear, I am not playing the parent’s defense attorney here. I completely agree that they should have been more careful. Yes, it is difficult and exhausting to handle over-active four year olds’ (I do it on a daily basis, so I would know!), but that’s what we as parents have signed up for. Caution and attention was required, and was clearly lacking.
However I don’t agree to statements like these that made the rounds of the inter-webs –
These parents should have all of their children removed from their custody.
The Zoo authorities should have let the child die, would have been fitting punishment to the stupid kid and lazy parent. At any rate, the kid will grow to be as careless, stupid and lazy as his parent, so hardly a loss.
Four year olds’ aren’t endangered. And can be replaced in as little as 4 years and 9 months. Why kill an endangered species for them?
I don’t even know how to appropriately and adequately respond to this kind of vitriol, but I think that –
Unless and until you’ve raised kids who’ve never got into trouble, never got hurt, were never out of sight, or did anything you weren’t fully aware of, you have no business vilifying someone else when it happens to them.
Yes, we all have our opinions, but I am sure there are more civil, or I should say more human ways of expressing them. Saying that the parents should have been more attentive is one thing, but passing judgement on the parent’s character, capability, and intention is a totally different thing.
Also, hypocrisy. The people who are so concerned about the gorilla’s life, are totally game to gamble away the child’s life as a “fitting” punishment to the ‘stupid’ child and ‘careless’ parent.
I am just so horrified at this. I wonder what moral high ground these people stake claim to when they decide to roll the dice on a child’s life.
Would they have said the same thing if it was their child? And please, let’s not go the route of – my kid would never fall into a gorilla pit, because I am an attentive parent.
Yes, probably that would have never happened with the majority of us. But if we are being completely honest with ourselves, we will admit to many instances when our child has been in harm’s way (nothing as terrible as this, but still) and we have gotten lucky.
We as parents should know better, and instead of spewing venom on these parents and the child, we should be thankful that nothing this terrifying happened to us during one of those times when we didn’t have our eyes on our kid.
And in case you don’t have kids yet, or have never dealt with a four year old, please don’t judge on hypothetical grounds. You don’t know what you don’t know.
However, if you still feel compelled to criticize and condemn, I sincerely wish you save your response to this incident, and reflect on it when you do have a four year old and he/she gets hurt due to “neglect” (because, believe you me, it will happen – gorilla pit or not!).
I personally feel that the prime responsibility/blame lies with the Zoo authorities, they should build these enclosures well, to ensure safety of both – the people and the animals. I hope that this serves as a lesson to them and other Zoos.
As I wrap this post up, I would just like to say this –
We certainly cannot gamble a life away on the basis of that moment.
Wishing you love and light.