Watch what happened the last time a small child fell into a gorilla habitat at the zoo

In this Aug. 16, 1996, file photo, Binti Jua, an 8-year-old female gorilla, carries an injured 3-year-old boy to a service gate after the child fell 18 feet to a concrete floor in the primate exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Ill.
Caption
In this Aug. 16, 1996, file photo, Binti Jua, an 8-year-old female gorilla, carries an injured 3-year-old boy to a service gate after the child fell 18 feet to a concrete floor in the primate exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Ill.

Credit: WLS-TV

Credit: WLS-TV

On Aug. 19, 1996, in Brookfield, Illinois, a 3-year-old boy escaped his own mother and fell unconsciously into the arms of another: a 150-pound female gorilla.

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The 8-year-old female primate, Binti Jua, made international headlines 20 years ago when she resisted aggression and favored her nurturing maternal instincts, cradling the boy who had plummeted nearly 20 feet into her enclosure at the Brookfield Zoo.

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At the time, Binti Jua had recently birthed her own child, 17-month-old Koola.

“Clearly exhibiting some maternal-type behavior, and we are amazed. We respect these animals and treat them as the wild animals they are,” said a zoo representative.

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The boy, whose name has not been released publicly, was picked up by Binti Jua. She held his limp body for several minutes before placing him in the arms of nearby rescuers, all while carrying Koola on her back.

The Brookfield Zoo is Chicago's second largest home to wild animals, following the Lincoln Park Zoo. Zookeepers were amazed by Binti Jua's delicacy in such a life-threatening situation.

“She was not showing any aggressive behavior toward the little boy,” said the zoo visitor. “It was a very dangerous situation. You do not want to be in their territory.”

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When rescuers got to him, the child was conscious and crying. He spent four days in the hospital after the incident.

Most recently, another child and gorilla encounter also made international news.

On Saturday, Harambe, a 17-year-old male gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio, was shot down while standing over a 4-year-old boy who had crawled into his enclosure.

Bystanders recorded footage of Harambe, who seemed to be roughly protecting the boy while dragging him through the water from corner to corner.

>> RELATED STORY: Gorilla killed after dragging boy who entered zoo enclosure

"It seemed very much by our professional team, our Dangerous Animal Response Team, to be a life-threatening situation. The choice was made to put down or shoot Harambe," Zoo Director Thayne Maynard told WCPO Cincinnati.

The Dangerous Animal Response team immediately defaulted to live ammunition, as tranquilizers “in an agitated situation” would have taken “quite a while to take effect.”

“The right choice was made. It was a difficult choice,” Maynard said.

Although the boy in Cincinnati was not unconscious when approached by the gorilla, this contrast between the two situations has caused much anger and backlash from those who are aware of the results from both gorilla-child encounters.

The Cincinnati Zoo has since defended killing the western lowland silverback.