On Saturday, a 450-pound Western lowland silverback gorilla named Harambe was killed by first responders after a three-year-old boy slipped inside his enclosure. And since the fateful moment, controversy has raged, both over whether there was any other means the zoo could've saved the child, whether Harambe was acting protectively towards the boy, and whether the boy's parents should be held responsible. But one thing is certain: tributes to Harambe of the Cincinnati Zoo are pouring in, memorializing the sadly slain beast.
Harambe had just turned 17 years old ― gorillas can live for well over than 30 years ― and was a member of a critically endangered species (according to CNN, there are less than 200,000 gorillas of Harambe's kind left on Earth). Needless to say, the story has generated an immense amount of sympathy for him on the one hand, and outrage in various directions on the other.
Even if you agree with the zoo's under-pressure decision to fatally shoot him, in light of the circumstances — regardless of how or why it happened, a colossal gorilla is most definitely a threat to a three-year-old child ― you really can't argue that Harambe deserved this very grisly, very public fate. Here are some of the tributes that have been offered since Saturday.
People mourning Harambe have gathered around the zoo since his death, striking an image that looks a bit like a blend between vigil and protest (although its organizers were reportedly very specific in saying that it was not a protest).
As Mike Buckingham of FOX19 notes in the tweet embedded above, the gathering has been peaceful. There are some people who made a more assertive point about the very nature of Harambe's life in the zoo, however, speaking out against his being forced to live in captivity to begin with, the same captivity that allowed him to be treated as disposable when an accident occurred.
As NBC News detailed, the incident drew a predictably stern response from PETA, which issued a statement condemning Harambe's captivity. Cincinnati Zoo director Thomas Maynard also lamented what happened, stating that "Harambe was a good guy," but also that the decision to kill him "saved the child's life."
The child's family has also released a statement, according to Cincinnati.com, saying that he's currently "doing just fine," and thanking the zoo: "We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff. We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla."