It’s been three years since Harambe the gorilla was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo

It’s been three-years since a child fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, causing zoo officials to shoot and kill Harambe, one of the apes.

After 10 minutes of the child being picked up and dragged around the enclosure, the zoo’s dangerous animal response team decided to kill Harambe because of the immediate danger to the boy.

A year after the incident Gorilla World was revamped with new safety precautions. Additions also included new landscaping, an energy-efficient stream and waterfall a resurfaced outdoor habitat.

Here are six things to remember about the incident:

The 4-year-old boy

The 4-year-old boy who fell did not sustain life-threatening injuries from the incident. The child was between the gorilla’s legs when it was shot. The boy was later released from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Saturday night.


Harambe was a 17-year-old western lowland silverback gorilla. These types of gorillas can be found in the jungles on the African continent. While the western lowland gorilla is the most populous species of western gorillas, they are still considered to be critically endangered in the wild, according to a-z animals.

The zoo’s safety

The zoo said this was the first time the public barrier at the gorilla exhibit has been breached since the zoo opened in 1978. According to the zoo’s Facebook page, the Gorilla World exhibit is inspected regularly by federal officials and adheres to safety guidelines.

Credit: John Sommers II

Credit: John Sommers II

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Gun over Tranquilizer 

The 450-pound gorilla was “slamming the child into the wall” according to Cincinnati police reports on the incident. “Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit. The two females complied, but Harambe did not,” said Zoo director Thane Maynard at the time. Maynard also mentioned that tranquilizers would not have taken effect for several minutes and the impact of the dart could have agitated the gorilla.

Controversy over death

Controversy started to brew online over whether to kill Harambe was the right call. A vigil was held near the front entrance of the Cincinnati Zoo to honor the 17-year-old gorilla. The hashtag #JusticeForHarambe was created and began trending on Facebook.

“Harambe was a good guy”

This gorilla originally came to the zoo in April 2015 after staying at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas and was paired with two females. “Harambe was a good guy,” Maynard said. “He was a youngster; the hope was to breed him.”

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