Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance

Childproof Zoo Habitats


The following video shows Harambe before the incident.

I feel I’ve been silent about this long enough. Harambe’s death brings so much sadness and frustration to my heart, I need to write about it. Zoo animals have few choices. They have no voice. This post is for Harambe.

I’m making a conscious effort to refrain from criticizing the mother of the little boy who managed to get into the gorilla’s home. This is not because I believe her to be free of responsibility. But focusing on the parental supervision issue distracts from a bigger issue.

Zoos have a responsibility to keep both animals and humans safe. A child should not be able to get into a zoo animal’s living space.

Yes, the Cincinnati Zoo recently made an effort to improve safety by increasing the height of the fence around the gorilla habitat by a few inches as shown in this report, but it’s not enough. A child could still climb over the new fence. A six foot tall fence, with strategically placed openings for viewing, would be more likely to prevent another tragedy. When we weigh the risk of harm to an animal or a human against the desire to view the animals without any obstruction, what’s more important?

Zoos as we know them are not ideal. I question whether it’s ethical to confine animals in such settings for the benefit of human pleasure and human profit.

The following New York Times article explores whether we should have gorillas in zoos at all.

In the above article, Dr. Watts, a primatologist at Yale University, explains Harambe’s behavior. He told the reporter he wishes he could have been there at the Cincinnati zoo during the incident.

“He would have volunteered to enter the enclosure and assume a submissive fetal position on the floor to try drawing the gorilla’s attention from the boy.”

My sadness multiplies when I watch the videos of Harambe with the boy. The gorilla appears to be taking a protective stance over the child. Harambe is not sure what to do. Yes, he does drag the boy around, but that happens after minutes of being screamed at. I have not found any accounts of attempts being made to distract Harambe, or bargain with him, which should have been the first thing to try.

Is it asking too much to have people trained to handle these kinds of situations in more than one way?

Is it asking too much to protect gorillas and other intelligent, endangered animals from exploitation and deadly risks?

Is it asking too much to make animal habitats humane and childproof? That would depend on your definition of humane. But certainly they can be made childproof.

I believe that in a civilized society, zoos as they exist today, will be a thing of the past. We CAN find ways to keep animals safe in humane preserves and sanctuaries, where children and unstable people can not get to them. I’m glad the boy who infiltrated the gorilla’s home was not seriously hurt. But my heart breaks for Harambe and his family.




Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

14 thoughts on “Childproof Zoo Habitats

  1. Ah! JoAnna…I couldn’t agree more. My heart was broken by the whole ordeal…not to mention that some people thought the next logical step was to send death threats to the mother!!

    He was so beautiful…and I agree that they possibly could have tried something else before killing him. I don’t know…I guess if it had been my son maybe I would think differently…but no matter…it all goes back to the zoo!!! There should be NO POSSIBLE way for a child to get in tbere!!

    Hope you are rocking retirement 😉 Lots of love ♡

    • Hi, Lorrie! Thanks for getting me to think about what if it had been my son. It would have been so frightening. I hope the incident and Harambe’s death will not be wasted and that everyone is more vigilant. I like how you phrased it: NO POSSIBLE WAY! And yep, I’m rocking my new lifestyle! Doing lots of painting which I’ll be posting about soon! I hope you are well and happy! ❤

      • I’m so happy for you!! Some people have to transition into “retirement” but I had a feeling it would look good on you!!

        Yes…it is still hard for me to get Harambe’s eyes out of my mind. The whole incident was unfortunate…and unnecessary. We can only hope that Harambe’s death will prevent anything like this from happening again. Much love to you, JoAnna ♡♡

  2. necessary dialogue as there are so few gorillas
    and so many humans
    which need to be kept

  3. I live on the slopes on the Mt. Kenya and gorillas, monkeys they are harmless,the zoo people just panicked I guess.

    • Thanks for sharing your valuable experience, Sarah. I believe your guess is accurate. I hope zoos use this as a lesson to be better prepared with more options and tighter security to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

  4. I agree JoAnna, it is terrible, when animals need to pay with their life for our stupidity or lack of attention to secure all much better.

  5. I have now been inspired to go and visit one of Melbourne’s Zoos. I will post some photos soon and will let you know.

    • Thank you, John, for taking steps to do what you can where you are. It somehow fits with the last line in “Becky’s Poem,” to do more than just dream and to take action! I hope you don’t mind that I re-blogged that poem. I fell in love with it.

  6. Pingback: Dinosaur Beach | Anything is Possible!

  7. i dont understood they do not try to let him sliep with a shot and take the child away Why to kild him ? And they must see childeren can not enter the place of the animals.

    • I don’t understand it either. They said there was not time for a tranquilizer to take effect and it might just make him mad. But I believe they could have tried something else. They need to make sure children can’t get inside with the animals. Thanks for reading!

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