The Mom Whose Toddler Fell Into The Cincinnati Zoo Enclosure Speaks Out In Defense Of Herself
Saturday brought tragedy as handlers at the Cincinnati Zoo had to decide what to do when a 4-year-old boy fell into the enclosures of a gorilla named Harambe. Determining that the boy's life was in immediate danger, the handlers shot Harambe, which killed him. Public anger surrounding the gorilla's death has been directed both at zoo officials and at the parents of the boy. Zoo officials have given statements and held a press conference on Monday, asserting that the handlers' actions were necessary and that the boy was in "imminent danger," CNN reported. On Sunday, a woman claiming to be the mother of the boy spoke out about the incident, defending herself against the accusation that she wasn't watching her son carefully enough.
Michelle Gregg, who said she is the boy's mother, posted comments on Facebook regarding the incident as thousands of people signed an online petition, "Justice for Harambe," which calls for an investigation into the boy's parents concerning suspected neglect. After saying that her son had no major injuries and expressing how grateful she is for his safety, Gregg wrote:
As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen...
The post is no longer available on Facebook, People reported. According to Yahoo News, Gregg's account was deactivated following the post. This may have occurred as a result of backlash concerning her comments. Another woman named Michelle Gregg — not the one claiming to be the boy's mother — was allegedly being harassed on social media as she was mistaken for the boy's mom.
Cincinnati.com reported that the boy entered the gorilla enclosure through a barrier and then fell 12 feet into a moat, attracting the attention of the 17-year-old, 450-pound gorilla. Onlookers took video footage and photos of the incident. One photo shows Harambe standing over the boy. Videos show the gorilla dragging the boy through the moat.
While Gregg commented in defense of herself as a parent, she has not been dismissive of the death of Harambe, an endangered western lowland gorilla. Cincinnati reported that a statement released by the family read:
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.
Whether there is any fault on the part of parents or zoo officials for Harambe's death will surely continue to be debated, though we're not likely to get any definite answers. According to her post, Gregg does not feel the incident was a result of negligence on her part.