In case you hadn’t heard, last Saturday on 28th May a gorilla was shot dead in the Cincinnati Zoo after a child fell into its enclosure.
There has been uproar at the decision to fatally shoot Harambe, the endangered lowland silverback male gorilla, after he grabbed the child that crawled past the railings and fell over 15ft into the shallow water.
The zoo has stuck by its decision in response to a ‘life threatening situation’. However, a criminal investigation has been opened and the parents of the child have received barrages of racist abuse and death threats online over their negligence that led to the eventual death of Harambe.
Millions (myself included) have watched and engaged online after a member of the on-looking crowd posted a video, filmed on her phone. The video shows Harambe standing on all-fours over 3-year old Isiah, and subsequently dragging him by his limbs like he might a branch or like his fictional cousins King and Donkey might a blonde damson or a barrel respectively.
The moral outcry began after witnesses as well as the video seemed to claim Harambe was innocently protecting the child and at times holding his hand, and therefore, a tranquilizer could have sufficed.
However, since, many experts have explained the gorilla’s actions to be ones that proved he was afraid and disorientated and therefore, unpredictable. Furthermore, in a statement released by the zoo, the director, Thane Maynard said that a tranquilizer would have been too slow acting and could have agitated the animal even more saying, “Looking back we would make the same decision.”
Tributes for the gorilla have poured in from around the globe and even a petition has been setup and signed over 500,000 times, named ‘Justice for Harambe’. Whilst, certainly the controversial shooting of the gorilla was deservedly publicised – the news last week became a farce. Articles began to be written about the attention the gorilla’s death was getting and therefore, inadvertently tempered the morality issue it was supposed to be and became more about ‘look how freaked out everyone has gotten over this gorilla’.
Meanwhile, whilst the death of a gorilla in a zoo was publically mourned for over a week – a lesser-publicised string of incidents in the Mediterranean Sea has caused at least 1,000 people to be presumed dead or missing.
The UN say up to 2,500 people have died this year trying to reach Europe via the sea. However, this number significantly increased in the past week.
It’s estimated 204,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea since the turn of the year – a figure that has acutely climbed compared to the 90,000 estimated by this time last year.
Of the 1,000 estimated dead or missing from the spike of deadly incidents last week a strong percentage are considered to have been children; children a similar age to the boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure in Cincinnati.
This is a picture of a rescuer with the German charity Sea-Watch, cradling a dead infant who was pulled from the waters after the boat he was on capsized. The photo was released by a humanitarian organisation last week aiming to persuade European authorities to ensure the safe passage for migrants seeking asylum.
Little detail is known about the child in the picture, who was on onboard a boat from Libya. Sea-Watch say they collected 25 bodies from the sea last week, including at least one other child.
Of course, due to the acute rise in migrant-based activity since the turn of the year it has been well publicised – such as the now hauntingly infamous picture of the 3-year old Syrian boy lying lifeless on the Turkish beach last year.
However, inevitably due to this significant rise, the news has become somewhat stagnant and perhaps ashamedly no longer deemed ‘news’. Therefore, the death of a gorilla thanks to parental negligence took the fore in a news week that contained items that clearly deserved greater attention.
The unnecessary and easily avoidable death of an endangered species is of course news, and news worth telling. However, the worldwide reaction has been ludicrous and therefore, has diluted and done an injustice to the likes of the photographed boy, the 1,000 in the Mediterranean Sea and many others in various different situations last week.
Comment below with your opinion on the Harambe issue as well as what you think about certain news items being less widely publicised.