Jane Goodall Shares More On Harambe's Death

Photo: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images.
Update: Jane Goodall offered more comments on the death of Harambe in a lengthy Q&A published over the weekend, reflecting on the gorilla's potential mindset, and how zoos can prevent situations like this from happening in the future. "It was awful for the child, the parents, Harambe, the zoo, the keepers, and the public. But when people come into contact with wild animals, life and death decisions sometimes have to be made," she said in the Q&A produced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

This story was originally published on June 2, 2016.

The death of a 400-pound gorilla shot and killed after a 4-year-old boy fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo has sparked a nationwide conversation about animal rights.

Now, one of the world's leading animal experts is speaking out about the incident. Jane Goodall published an email she sent to zoo director, Thane Maynard, regarding what she described as "a devastating loss to the zoo, and to the gorillas."

"I feel so sorry for you, having to try to defend something which you may well disapprove of," the primatologist wrote. "I tried to see exactly what was happening — it looked as though the gorilla was putting an arm round the child — like the female who rescued and returned the child from the Chicago exhibit."

In the email, which was published on the Jane Goodall Institute website, Goodall also asks about the reactions of the zoo's other gorillas. "Are they allowed to see, and express grief, which seems to be so important," she wrote.

After Harambe was killed, some people asked why the zoo didn't tranquilize him, rather than kill him. Maynard defended the zoo's actions, saying the boy's life was in danger, and tranquilizers could have agitated the animal and would have taken several minutes to become effective. A video of the incident appears to show Harambe dragging the child around the enclosure.

Cincinnati police announced Tuesday, meanwhile, that they will investigate the boy's family to see what circumstances led to him falling into the enclosure. "After the review, we will determine if charges need to be brought forward," Tiffaney Hardy, a police spokesperson, told CNN.

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