Cincinnati zoo: Family of three-year-old boy ask people to donate money in 'memory of Harambe'

The 17-year-old gorilla was shot and killed after the youngster fell into its enclosure

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Wednesday 01 June 2016 15:52

The family of the boy who fell into the enclosure at Cincinnati zoo, sparking officials to shoot and kill a gorilla, have asked people to make donations to the institution in the animal’s memory.

As controversy continued to swirl over the shooting of 17-year-old gorilla, Harambe, and as police said they were investigating the role of the parents of the child, the family issued a statement to say the youngster was “doing well” after his encounter with the animal.

They also asked that any members of the public wishing to make a donation to the family, should instead make it to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Video footage showed Harambe with the little boy

“We continue to praise God for his grace and mercy, and to be thankful to the Cincinnati Zoo for their actions taken to protect our child,” the family said.

“Some have offered money to the family, which we do not want and will not accept. If anyone wishes to make a gift, we recommend a donation to the Cincinnati Zoo in Harambe’s name.”

The family has been forced to defend itself against a storm of criticism on social media that the child’s mother should have done more to prevent the three-year-old boy from entering the enclosure on Saturday. The zoo has defended its decision to shoot and kill the gorilla, saying it was the only way to ensure the child’s safety.

“As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids,” the mother, Michelle Gregg, wrote on Facebook.

“Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.”

Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla Harambe plays as a baby

Police in Ohio said on Tuesday that the parents were the target of an investigation into the incident.

Investigators are focusing their attention on the actions of the parents and family that led up to the incident over the Memorial Day weekend and not the operation or safety of the Cincinnati Zoo, Reuters reported.

“We are closely reviewing the facts of the case,” Cincinnati police department said in a tweet.

“Once their investigation is concluded, they will confer with our office on possible criminal charges,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said in a statement.

The death of the gorilla also prompted the animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now to file a negligence complaint on Tuesday against the zoo with the US Department of Agriculture. The group is seeking the maximum penalty of $10,000.

The group said in its complaint letter that the child’s ability to get past the barrier was proof the zoo was negligent and should be fined for a “clear and fatal violation of the Animal Welfare Act”.

The Gorilla World exhibit has been closed since the incident and is due to reopen on Saturday.

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