Flashback: This gorilla carried a child back to safety

Jun 02, 2016, 15:27 IST | midday online correspondent

With all the outrage surrounding the killing of Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe to save a 4-year-old infant who fell into it's enclosure, we flash back to an incident in 1996 when a gorilla actually brought a child to safety.

Flashback: When a gorilla mothered a child back to safety
Image courtesy/Official YouTube channel of ABC News

The incident happened at the Brookfield Zoo in the US state of Illinois. A 3-year-old boy fell into a 15-ft pit housing several gorillas. The toddler had wandered off from his mother.

In what could only be described as a miracle or an animal finding its motherly instinct, one of the apes named Binti Jua, a rare western lowland gorilla, who was carrying her on 17-month old baby on her back picked him up and cradled him for several minutes before giving him to the paramedics.

The footage was posted by a popular television news channel.

Slain gorilla Harambe. Pic/AFP
Slain gorilla Harambe. Pic/AFP

A public backlash intensified last week after zookeepers killed Harambe a 17-year-old critically endangered Western lowland silverback gorilla who held a 4-year-old boy crawled through a barrier and tumbled into the enclosure. Video footage showed the creature dragging the boy through a water-filled moat while onlookers scream.

At one point, the huge animal stops and appears to hold the child's hand before pulling him out of view.

The Gorilla exhibit was temporarily closed following the incident.

Also read: Cincinnati Zoo gorilla's killing sparks outrage on Twitter

While generally acknowledging that zookeepers had few options, critics slammed the zoo and the child's parents.

Angry animal lovers expressed outrage that the child had slipped into the enclosure. Several people protested outside the Cincinnati Zoo blaming the boy's parents and the zoo's authorities of negligence. Many called for a Harambe memorial to be built, and for people to boycott the zoo.

A couple of screen grabs from the video
A couple of screen grabs from the video

Police said today they were investigating the circumstances surrounding a 4-year-old boy entering a gorilla's exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo and the animal being shot to death to protect the child. A federal investigation is also planned.

A federal inspection less than two months ago found no problems with the zoo’s Gorilla World exhibit, but earlier zoo inspections reported issues including the potential danger to the public from a March incident involving wandering polar bears.
- With inputs from Agencies 

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