Trump Speaks Out On Harambe

by Chris Tognotti

On Tuesday, at the same time as the social media world was still grappling with the story of a tragically slain gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, a certain presidential nominee decided to speak out. And you might not have seen it coming — Donald Trump's Harambe the gorilla opinion just might surprise you. Not because he disagreed with the decision to fatally shoot the 17-year-old, endangered Western lowland silverback — according to CNN's Ashley Killough, he commented that the zoo "probably had no choice" in the matter — but because he also took a moment to comment on the "beautiful" sight of Harambe interacting with the three-year-old child who fell into his enclosure on Saturday.

As is typical for Trump, the answer seemed to come somewhat off the top of his head, but he did speak with a certain reverence towards the gorilla's seemingly protective instincts that you wouldn't necessarily expect. Here's what he said, when asked by a reporter on Tuesday morning for his take on the Cincinnati Zoo's decision to kill Harambe.

I think it's a very tough call. It was amazing, because there were moments with the gorilla, the way he held that child, there was almost like a mother holding a baby. Looked so beautiful and calm. And there were moments where it looked pretty dangerous.
I don't think they had a choice, I mean, probably they didn't have a choice. You have a child, a young child is at stake, you know, and it's too bad there wasn't another way. I thought it was so beautiful to watch that powerful, almost 500-pound gorilla, how he dealt with that little boy. But it just takes one second. It's one second, it's not like it takes place over — well, he's going to do it in 30 seconds from now. It just takes one little flick of his finger. And I will tell you they probably had no choice.

Whatever else you can say about Trump — and make no mistake, there's a wealth of criticisms to be made, on policy, personality, and political instincts alike, you can't really deny that he's the perfect candidate to speak to a viral story like this, because he clearly spends so much time on Twitter. Unless you think he was prepped for this question specifically, which seems like a distinct long shot, there's a solid chance he saw the video of Harambe on social media like everyone else, and shot from the hip in describing it like anybody else might.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

It's also a little odd to hear Trump sticking up for Harambe in any capacity, given the safety-and-security-first attitude he likes to project. Frankly, there's something in the way he mentions how "beautiful" the sight of Harambe and the boy together was that comes off as more authentic and considered than a whole lot of statements he's made throughout his campaign, even though he arrived at the decision — as many people have — that it was too big a risk to second-guess the zoo's decision to kill the gorilla.

In any event, this means that the Republican presidential nominee has officially weighed in on Harambe's killing, while Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have stayed mum on the topic. It's not so surprising that Trump would hold court on topics most candidates wouldn't bother touching on, sure, but it's nonetheless surprising to hear him voice some fond appreciation for the slain beast.