Mom's 911 Call Brings New Perspective to "Gorillagate"
"He's dragging my son. I can't watch this!" the desperate mom says during the heart-wrenching 911 call.
It's all people are talking about on the Internet: the 4-year-old boy, Isaiah, who fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, an accident that resulted in zoo personnel deciding to shoot and kill 17-year-old Harambe.
Some people have rallied around the boy's mom, saying anyone could lose track of a child for a few seconds—you just hope it isn't near a gorilla exhibit at a zoo. But there's also been a strong public outcry for justice for rare gorilla Harambe, who found himself the victim of an unfortunate circumstance. Some experts, like well-known primatologist Jane Goodall, even claim the animal could have been attempting to protect the child, not hurt him.
Now, the 911 call from the boy's mother during the terrifying incident seems to lend a new perspective to the situation. Try watching the video of the child's encounter with Harambe at the same time the audio of the recently-released call is playing, as it was posted to the ABC News site. Now tell me you don't have a chill running up your spine.
"My son fell in the zoo exhibit at the gorilla—at the Cincinnati zoo. My son fell in with gorilla. There is a male gorilla standing over him," we hear the mom say. Her desperate tone is simply devastating.
Then we hear her call out to her son, seemingly in vain, "Be calm, be calm!"
And then she is screaming to the 911 operator, "He's dragging my son. I can't watch this!"
I know that feeling, like when my toddler is standing at the very tippy-top of the stairs, and I literally have to close my eyes. It's too hard to watch, as I envision what could go wrong and feel frozen in fear.
Soon after the 49-second call, Harambe was shot and killed. Zookeeper Thane Maynard has firmly stood by the zoo's decision to kill the animal, saying in a statement, "That child's life was in danger. People who question that don't understand you can't take a risk with a silverback gorilla —this is a dangerous animal. Looking back, we'd make the same decision. The child is safe."
Nonetheless, Cincinnati police are currently investigating the boy's family to determine if any charges will be brought against them for the incident, according to CNN.
Passions will clearly be running high as "Gorillagate" continues to dominate the news and social media. But anyone who listens to that 911 call—and watches the video—cannot deny that in an impossible situation, the split-second decision to kill Harambe very likely saved a child's life. It's still a horrible tragedy, and anyone grieving for the beautiful gorilla, who was in captivity, let's not forget, and didn't do anything except behave like the wild animal he is, should not be shamed either.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.