Gorilla grabs child who’s fallen into habitat in Cincinnati Zoo
CINCINNATI —The Cincinnati Zoo has been packed with visitors this holiday weekend when many of them were shocked by an incident in which a 4-year-old boy crawled through a railing and fell into a moat in a gorilla habitat.
A family trip to the zoo Saturday afternoon turned terrifying, witness Kim O’Connor said.
O’Connor and her family captured some of the chilling moments inside Gorilla World when 17-year old Harambe grabbed the boy — video seen only on WLWT.
WLWT has removed the most graphic portions of the video, during which the gorilla dragged the boy through the water.
Harambe, a 400-pound, 17-year-old male lowland gorilla, was inside a cave when the boy got into the Gorilla World enclosure.
“You heard the splash. People are yelling, ‘There’s a boy in the water. There’s a boy in the water,’” O’Connor said.
O’Connor and her family watched in disbelief.
At times, Harambe almost appeared to want to protect the boy from the onlookers.
“I don’t know if the screaming did it or too many people hanging on the edge, if he thought we were coming in, but then he pulled the boy down away further from the big group,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor says she heard the 4-year-old saying he wanted to jump into the gorilla’s habitat before the incident. The boy’s mother was also tending to several other young children.
“The little boy himself had already been talking about wanting to … get in the water. The mother’s like, ‘No, you’re not, no, you’re not,’” O’Connor said.
O’Connor tried to help keep others calm while zoo officials moved in but left before Harambe was shot. In total, the boy was in the enclosure for 10 to 15 minutes, fire officials said.
“Unfortunately, we heard it. We hadn’t gotten much outside the gates. We were hoping, hoping, they were just putting him to sleep,” O’Connor said.
Now her thoughts are understandably with the boy’s family.
“Really, we would just like to know that that little boy is OK, because of what we saw, the trauma of what we saw,” O’Connor said.