Friday 03 June 2016 | 62

The gorilla and the child

When Harambe saw the young boy fall down into his enclosure at the Cincinnati zoo, he went straight to him. A human child or a gorilla child, to Harambe, it’s pretty much the same thing, they look so similar! The young gorilla was not yet a father himself but he showed the same concern for the little human as he would have for one of his own. He checked that the child was still alive and then shaded him with his strong body.

Hr blog

This is when the cries started, screams of "Oh my God!", as people assembled on the guardrails in an eruption of mass hysteria, looking down at the pair and throwing objects.

The gorilla, surprised, dragged the child a bit further away using the strength that he possesses. They then stopped again near the fountain. The gorilla took the boys hand. He stood him up, pulled up his pants and adjusted his t-shirt. The gorilla looked into the boys eyes for a long time. Then without warning, in one shot, a bullet exploded his skull. The beautiful Harambe was dead at the age of 17, the day after his birthday.

We could have distracted Harambe with treats, or distanced him with a jet of water. We could have evacuated the excited public, calmed the big primate, spoken gently to him. In the days following this sad event, Franz De Waal and other primate behaviour specialists have reiterated: at no point did Harambe show the slightest sign of aggression, he just showed concern regarding the public's reaction.

But it was just a monkey after all; whose life has never had the same value as that of a human. Rather than taking the slightest risk, we prefer to fix the problem with arms.

For the Ohio zoo, who had acquired the male in 2015 from Gladys Porter Zoo, Harambe was just an incubator of precious genes. The crazy eugenic logic of the reproduction programmes values the species more than the individual. So, the sperm was quickly taken from his body to be refrigerated and injected one day into a specially chosen female. Births at the zoo are also very lucrative.

Yet however many gorillas from the western plains are battery farmed, this will never save the species itself. None of these big primates born amongst humans would be capable of returning to their ancestral home and surviving. Gorillas are cultural beings possessing intelligence, gentle vegetarian people who have evolved in the primal forests over thousands of years. They pass down their knowledge from generation to generation; humans are not capable of teaching them this.

The real importance is not to multiply them in order meet industry and leisure requirement for little groups of show gorillas, that families can visit for a fee whilst eating popcorn. The real emergency is to save the large primates habitat as quickly as possible, whilst we still can, investing the resources required to act seriously in areas such as the Dzanga Sangha reserve or the Virunga mountains. Without the forest, the gorillas are no longer gorillas, but are monsters in a fair, pathetic phoney King Kongs on display for the crowd who tremble from a safe distance.

Harambe was not King Kong. He was just a young prisoner born in captivity into a confined world where he had absolutely nothing to do, both literally and figuratively. What has come from this tragedy? A pointless debate about parental responsibility, a great sadness amongst the gorillas at Gorilla World, but not yet, sadly, a radical review into the real reason that Harambe was killed: the zoos. It's one zoo that brought him into the world, another that killed him, demonstrating the same level of concern for production that is given to the poor battery chickens.

Rest in peace, Harambe. We will do our very best to ensure that in France and in the rest of the world, that one day an event such as this will never be repeated.

Yvon Godefroid
Hr blog

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Comments 62

I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.

taty | Tuesday 07 June 2016

Boycot de tous les zoos c'est la seule solution.

eucil | Tuesday 07 June 2016

Bien que je sois triste pour le gorille... j'ai une question pour vous qui avez écrit cet article... Êtes vous spécialiste en comportement animal... plus particulièrement pour les gorille???

Parce que j'ai lu un article d'une comportementaliste qui a travaillé dans un zoo. Et bien que ça lui ait briser le coeur de voir un gorille se faire tuer... C'était la seul solution car non... le gorille ne se comportait pas avec le petit comme un des siens. Oui, il aurait très bien pu devenir violent car l'enfant était un intru dans son enclos et il était stressé...

C'est certain que ça n'aidait pas avec les cris autour mais le zoo n'avait d'autres choix. Croyez-vous que ça leur a fait plaisir de tuer ce gorille qui était une attraction pour leur clients...

La seule chose à dire... C'est que les zoo ne devrait pas exister, à moins que ce soit des animaux rescapés qui ne peuvent retourner dans leurs habitacles naturels. Comme l'écomuséum que nous avons à Montréal...

One Voice | Tuesday 07 June 2016

Harambé protégeait l’enfant, la primatologue Jane Goodall, qui a passé la majeure partie de sa vie à étudier les primates, est formelle. Dans tous les cas, la question ici est bien de poser la question de l’existence des zoos qui ne protègent pas les animaux mais les exploitent pour du profit.

Théa | Monday 06 June 2016

Le geste tueur a été trop hâtif ?

NORM27 | Monday 06 June 2016

Tant que l'être humain sera pris dans les pièges de l'égo il réagira de cette façon. L'amour et la sincérité de ce gorille sont de toute beauté si c'est vraiment ce qui s'est passé. Un espoir en moi qu'au moins quelques humains verront comment nous jugeons autant les animaux comme les humains de façon radicale avec notre ÉGO. Les justes serons récompensés un jour.... je souhaite que nous apprenions quelque chose de cette expérience. Merci à ce gorille d'avoir donné sa vie pour nous montrer notre EGOISME ....