A grim situation all around


By Angela Shepherd - [email protected]



Angela Shepherd Staff columnist


I am heartbroken that Harambe had to die. And, as I always tend to side with the animal, I feel like it didn’t need to happen.

But then there is the other side of that coin. What if that was my child that slipped through the barriers so nimbly, too quickly for this harried mom to stop his actions? I can only imagine the terror I would feel if that was my small son at the mercy of a gorilla. It is entirely terrifying to see the video footage of Harambe dragging the boy through the moat, a feeling not enough offset by the times the gorilla appeared to be protecting the boy.

I am sure so many of us would like to think that Harambe, raised by human hands and not unfamiliar at all with the ways of his mankind caregivers, would have not harmed the boy. But, he was a gorilla, not a human. He was, while an animal raised by humans, still a wild animal. Harambe was a massive creature and capable of inflicting much harm to a vulnerable human being, even if harm was not the gorilla’s intention.

I hate that he died. I really, really do hate it. And it is something that makes me again rethink what I think about some things.

As I have grown up, I have come to not be so enthralled by zoos and the like. While I think the educational aspect is so very important, is it worth keeping captive all these animals?

And when we condone the captivity, shouldn’t we make every effort to make sure that our charges are protected, especially from the acts of our own human hands, from the uncertainty of our own humanness? But, I wonder if that is an unattainable thing, really.

In one of the many stories penned in the last few days, I read that since the gorilla enclosure opened at the Cincinnati Zoo nearly 40 years ago that Saturday’s was the very first breach of its borders.

I read another story about how the boy was in the enclosure for about 10 minutes, and I wonder if it may have been wiser to tranquilize the impressive silverback. While zoo officials in the story said it would have taken time to take effect on the 400-plus pound animal, 10 minutes is indeed time, right?

It is heartbreaking, especially when the seemingly best intentions of humans result in something else, something innocent, paying a dear price.

I don’t know if there is an appropriate place to point a finger, or that a finger even needs pointing. It is a terrible situation, but one that could have also been much, much worse.

The purpose of a zoo is to further the cause of their charges, to rehabilitate animals that, in the wild, would be dead already, to promote awareness and conservation. It is their place to make the very best home possible for these transplanted souls.

I used to greatly enjoy the Indianapolis Zoo. It is small, but chock-full of wonderment around every corner. And one of its more unique exhibits is the dolphins. Not only can you see dolphin shows throughout the day, but you can see the dolphins under the water and maybe even interact with them a bit down below the performance arena where a thick, Plexiglas bubble juts out into the deep performance pool and we humans can stand amazed as we watch the dolphins in their watery world.

The trouble with this is that it seems nary a soul respects the dolphins or their manufactured home from which they cannot escape. The zoo has signs posted telling visitors to speak in whispers, to not hit the glass or make any other loud noises as it disturbs the animals, but people in general don’t care about that.

The several times I have been there, only once have I been able to see the dolphins up close and personal because it was just me and my family down in that bubble. All the other times the dolphins swam as far away from the ruckus as they possibly could.

Shouldn’t the zoo post someone down there, a sentry of sorts, to protect these animals from the witless barbarians that come down thinking that the dolphins are there purely for their pleasure? It is the very least the Indy Zoo could do, because protecting those animals should be of utmost importance.

It is just another one of those instances that, in recent years, has made me sad about how humanity as a whole lacks any sort of understanding that we are not entitled to be entertained by every single thing under the sun.

And on another depressing and infuriating note, I have seen reports that the mother of the boy who fell into Harambe’s enclosure is considering suing the zoo. Say it ain’t so. There’s enough responsibility to go around, mother lady, accept some of it.

We humans certainly are not the biggest thing out there, but we are deemed the top predator on this planet. I thank God that he made us small and fleshy and vulnerable. Otherwise, we’d have wiped this planet clean of absolutely everything eons ago, and then we’d be gone, too.

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.

Angela Shepherd Staff columnist
http://timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_Angela-Shepherd-mug.jpgAngela Shepherd Staff columnist

By Angela Shepherd

[email protected]

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