Justice for Harambe

Posted by Carney Anne Nasser, Senior Counsel for Wildlife & Regulatory Affairs on June 6, 2016


Here we are again. Only six weeks after big cat keeper Stacey Konwiser was killed by a Malayan tiger at the AZA-accredited Palm Beach Zoo, yet another tragedy has occurred. This time, a May 28th incident at the AZA-accredited Cincinnati Zoo left a little boy injured and a young gorilla, Harambe, dead. Well-meaning people are outraged and desperate to assign blame. Indeed, since Saturday, more than 180,000 signed a petition seeking prosecution of the child’s parents, all in the name of #JusticeforHarambe. Social media is flooded with a debate over whether the zoo made the right call by killing rather than tranquilizing Harambe. However, at their core, these heart-wrenching situations aren’t about parenting, emergency management, or keeper error. Responsibility for every single one of these tragic incidents lies with zoos, circuses, and other business models centered on warehousing animals for public amusement.

As long as we keep complex wild animals in zoos, circuses, and other unnatural situations that deny them the full range of their normal behaviors, they will continue to suffer and dangerous human-animal interactions that end in tragedy will continue—all while wild populations dwindle. Despite the claims of zoos and other animal exhibitors, not only is there no educational value in seeing animals confined to artificial exhibits, conservationists like David Quammen in his book, Wild Thoughts from Wild Places, have pointed out that zoos “may actually undermine the continued existence of what they purport to celebrate. People … visit the zoos, and by the mesmeric power of these vicarious experiences, they come carelessly to believe that [an endangered species] . . . is alive and well because they have seen it.”

We can each do a better job of seeking #JusticeforHarambe by cutting through the noise about parenting, defects in habitat construction, and appropriate methods to immobilize animals in an emergency, and committing to support only those conservation initiatives that: 1) focus on legitimate contributions to preservation of species in the wild; and 2) don’t put the lives of keepers, animals, or the viewing public at risk.

69 thoughts on “Justice for Harambe

  1. Dianne Carter says:


    1. Joseph Barnett says:

      Agree 100%

    2. Jeannie Taylor says:

      I agree. shut down all zoos and the roadside zoos also. Let them be free.

    3. Nancy Raymond says:

      Zoos are nothing more than animal jails, criminals belong in cages, not animals.

  2. Lawren Rudley says:

    So sick of animals being murdered because of human stupidity and greed.

  3. Lone Fundby says:

    Thanks for your excellent work on behalf of the animals. I hope to see the day when all zoos are closed and illegal. It has no place in this world – and never did!

  4. Roxana Nunez says:

    Justice for Harambe

  5. Michael says:

    If the child was killed the parents would be filthy
    Harambe did nothing wrong, and he was killed.
    Greed and stupidity!!

    1. Kirsti Arndt says:

      The Mother, it has been reported, is seeking a suit against the zoo. On both ends it comes down to money. If she makes one dime off this tragedy, she should be forced, legally to donate the funds to this organization. (ALDF)

      1. Kathleen Goodwin says:

        Abolish zoos and other reasons to remove animals from their natural habitats!!!!

  6. kaitany says:

    Make zoos illegal!

  7. Lori Benefiel says:

    This broke my heart ,shut them down ,a buy all mean prosecute these parents,they said how good this zoo was ,BULLSHIT,what I saw was he looked like he was helping this child,and Jack Hanna how could you say killing was the way,and were was a worker who did not go in and do there job,shut them down ,along with all captive animals,testing on Animals ,factory farming etc etc could go on but would take all night,SHAME&KARMA BECOME YOU WORST NIGHTMARE

    1. Kathleen Goodwin says:

      Might be time to organize “karma” groupsin every state. Anyone who harms any animal will be at stake. See how they like it!!!!

  8. Mercedes Caraco says:

    Shut down zoos and circuses, in the meantime charge irresponsible idiot parents for trespassing. Agree with Lawren Rudley, animals are being murdered because of human stupidity and those stupid morons should pay for every animal killed.

    1. Judith Vosch says:

      We need to stop the murder of wild animals because of human actions cause the problem. Now the animal is dead I say murdered and the mother is not going to be prosecuted because the prosecutor does not feel she did not neglect the child this is the same prosecutor who failed to prosecute a mother who left her infant in here hot car because she forgot the baby was in the car seat and went into work

      1. L Michaels says:

        It is mind-boggling to read how parents today forget they have kids and leave them in cars. I see parents ignoring their very young children everyday. Why are these parents so distracted and oblivious?

        1. JJ says:

          Because the should never have been allowed to have kids in the first place. Should have been spayed/neutered at birth!

  9. Diana DiCarlo says:

    This was totally ignorant to have happened. These animals never asked to be placed in this environment. God did”nt put them there either. Humans are all for what they want for entertainment, not caring, except for themselves. Humans think they are superior…just look what they have done to this world…All for greed and what they want.

  10. Laura Dally says:

    It’s a shame that we have been capturing wild animals and putting them on exhibit for all these years. We are well into the future now and it’s long past due time for us to start respecting animals and the environment. Animals belong in their natural environment and they deserve to be safe there. This is an international concern. We need strict animal rights laws to prevent their capture and to protect them while in the wild.

    1. Shauna collier says:

      I agree however if we still choose to hold animals captive than we should respect them and protect them ar all cost..in this case..the boy should have been left in the cage until a plan of resue was hatched..the gorilla was just sitting clam next to the boy before shoot. The danger was over…harambe clearly felt th boy was safe now…staying calm and couching harambe to bring the boy to the staff hould have been the main objective.

  11. tammie colosimo says:


    1. JJ says:

      Well said Tammie!

  12. Michelle Tubbs says:

    No one should prosper because of innocent animals being held captive.

  13. Anne Montarou, Plaisir says:

    Close all zoos !

  14. Gladys gauci says:

    Animals are not here for humans to make a profit on. They should not be caged.
    Live and let live.

  15. D. Brown says:

    The sad part is this animal lost his life when another form of protocol could have been used……..a loud blare gun which could have made him move away from the child to be quickly tranquilized and the kid saved. Shooting should always be a last resort. It didn’t seem necessary. We don’t have crystal balls to see what could have happened either way, but trying that could have saved an animals life before tragedy took over. It’s not a question about being an animal lover, it’s a matter of moral ethics in the way we treat all levels of life today. Jacques Cousteau would have probably saved the animal the best way he could have.

    1. Kathleen Goodwin says:

      Dumbfocks in charge help no one!!!!!!

    2. Shauna collier says:

      No patients the zoo had..no attempts to couch Harambe to bring the boy to staff…they could have tried giving harambe food to couch him away from the boy. They could have tried opening the door and calling him to the door…they could have distracted him by throwing toys food and telling the boy to slowly walk away.
      they tried nothing…wow…horrible zoo..

  16. Erica hill says:

    It sickens me how we are treating this planet.soon there will be nothing left and we will all parish.

  17. Melissa says:

    I understand the breeding program and why zoos keep some animals but the animal welfare act hhas to be looked at and redone it was done in the1960s and alot of it is outdated and new laws need added as in the hight and what kind of barriers would keep people out and animals,in,for the welfare of both they also need to look into better more effect ways to deal with things of this nature when tranquilizers take to long find a better faster drug or plant that will do no harm to people or animal the last thing is habitats themself I think maybe a open on may be good for some all year round but some need heat and in winter don’t get outside like they should so maybe a thermal area or dome that can be opened or closed to regulate Temps and air for some animals also there needs to be rules and laws for anyone who should knowingly or unknowingly enter a area for the animals and trespass that will be punishable by law for adults or parents of children who jump into such areas. Or tormented a animal to cause it to want to harm them as,the case where some boys did so and the gorilla climbed out and attached people.

    1. Shauna collier says:

      The gorilla should have been calmed down and all the people should have been rushed out. Then zoo staff should have couch harambe to bring the boy back to the zoo…animals understand small babies…they should have told the boy not to scream stay calm so the gollira stay calm…

  18. Mel Smith says:

    Very disappointed at the prosecutor’s decision and angry at the mother taking it so lightly to say that it was “just an accident”. Perhaps one day the kid would “accidentally” roam into another house and be shot with no charges filed for the person defending his home. The public lost a very beautiful creature that gave many joy to those we visited the zoo and raised awareness for other endangered species. What will the mother do to replace that? Nothing. She should have at least had to do some community/zoo service to compensate for that. But, nothing. No accountability to society? Shame on the mom and the zoo.

    1. Shauna collier says:

      True..an accident would been the boy tripped on a rock and fell on the cage and it opened causing him to fall in harambe habitat. Hell hell no..a child with no reguard to his moter that told him NO went anyway purposely in the gorilla cage because he wanted too..he went through 3 barries…how is that an accident?
      Horrible mother..

  19. Chris says:

    See “The Anteater’s Umbrella: A Critique of the Ideology of Zoos” at

  20. Lisa Brochu says:

    These prisons have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect the animals at all costs that are kept there. Killing them should not be an option under 99.99% of the circumstances. Human negligence is definitely a circumstance that should have allowed all involved including Harambe safety and protection.

    1. Shauna collier says:

      I agree…that bitch brought her disobedient child to the zoo. The zoo should have assisted in the effort of the child safety but not murder a endangered gorilla. If need be that child should have died and the mother go to jail for negligence…however Harambe was not attempting to kill the boy so the zoo should have worked endless to couch Harambe to bring the boy to the door…period

  21. john pasqua says:


  22. Leslene Dunn says:


  23. Sandra Martinho says:

    Animals must live in freedom!!! Not in cages!!!

  24. Sandra Martinho says:

    Animals must live in freedom!! Not in cages!!!

  25. Frank says:

    The wrong animal lost their life,,,that horrible female should have been sterilized years ago…worst mother,,worst person,,, a pity whore..shame on the zoo..no charges filed on her….No funding for zoo’s that kill their animals.

  26. Murray the Dog says:

    One can only hope that most of you people are on the inside of a very secure mental health facility

  27. We are Primates too says:

    I am more upset that the zoo director Thane Maynard did not treat this differently since Harambe was raised by a HUMAN in Texas. I think he should be fired. It is not like he had not been around humans before. I feel he was rescuing the boy from the screams and took him to his Exit door into his sleeping area (his safe place) and instead of opening the door to let him in or trying to coax the child to them, Harambe met death instead of safety. I am angry, I do not attend zoos but will never again and will actively work against them. I love you Animal Legal Defense Fund, thanks for all you do. All primates understand open arms as a love and safety display, if they only would have done that and called the kid to them.

  28. Windea says:

    Too bad we are destroying their natural habitats as well.

  29. Ebony says:

    People are so disgusted with the parents of the boy in the Cincinatti Zoo Gorilla incident . How irresponsible they were..what about the parents of the boy in Orlando florida..The 2 year old playing in a Florida Lagoon?? A Lagoon..Hint Florida?.. unknown water?..lagoon?.. hmm gators perhaps?..maybe even snakes. Hmm parents by the pool? 2 year old in a Lagoon..alligator kills boy. Those parents seem irresponsible as well..signs were up No swimming the parents must have failed or ignored to see those. No parent is perfect. But we’re those parents considered irresponsible by the media and maybe half the world.

  30. Ebony says:

    And I think y’all have things backwards . If a gorilla has my child. No matter how my child got in there. I would want my child back as soon as possible.I would think any sane person would .. By any means necessary.Even if it meant a bullet to kill whatever has my child . That could cause bodily harm or DEATH.. A child’s life is more important than some gorilla. Gorillas are beautiful animals..primates.don’t get me wrong.God creations. But if a Gorilla had my child I would want my child back immediately. Even if it called for the death of the gorilla. Point Blank Period.

    1. Shauna collier says:

      All that damn pasion for your child should make you want to watch your child and be cautious while at a public place in the first place. This was not an accident. The child purposly disobeyed his mom and went into the gorilla cage..
      I understand how a parent must feel if it were their child however a child disobedient and no reguard for what his mother said should been the one to die to raise awareness on discipline young children to obey. Harambe lost his life for nothing and no good cause..

  31. Ebony says:

    Zoos are dangerous. And that’s why I would agree for them to be shut down. I wonder who’s idea was it to place zoos so close to residents.. Animals can get loose..nothing is fail proof…Dangerous..They always seem to have zoos in the city..near neighborhoods..and businesses..? Well populated areas.

  32. Shauna collier says:

    Harambe was brought to this zoo to be protected. Why the hell did that protecion turn into murder? Why is a disobedient child grounds for murder? Why was there not an attempt to couch Harambe to bring the boy to staff. Why was there no zoo staff instucting people to leave and stop screaming? Why is this intelligent animal not communicated with in efforts to save the boy? There is a cover up to protect the zoo in public eyes. I see that much effort has been made to cover up and or attempt to show the right choice was made to kill Harambe. I see the truth. Harambe was killed because zoo staff was fearful, ignorant, untrained, unpatient, lack emergecy measures, and wanted no liabity for the boy life if he died. I am Appalled at this zoo..if zoo’s are going to hold animals captive than stand on your word to protect them at any cost.

  33. Shauna collier says:

    Harambe misstake was to attempt to help the child….watch how he guard the child as he watch the people scream..as he run off then look how he help the boy up and attempt to grag him by the shirt because before the child scream being drug by the leg. Look how later harambe feel morm calm away from the screams and sit calmly by the boy.
    What the hell made anyone think harambe was mad or aggressive?
    Ignorance untrained staff unpatient people caused an endangered animal to lose his life and no one charged for his dealth..
    If the zoo have no real reguard in the protection of their captive animals then close the zoo and release the animals back to nature..god will care for all his creatures one way or another…

  34. Shauna collier says:

    Harambe’s misstake was to attempt to help the child….watch how he guard the child as he watch the people scream..as he run off then look how he help the boy up and attempt to drag him by the shirt because before the child scream being drug by the leg. Look how later harambe feel more calm away from the screams and sit calmly by the boy.
    What the hell made anyone think harambe was mad or aggressive?
    Ignorance untrained staff and unpatient people caused an endangered animal to lose his life and no one charged for his dealth..
    If the zoo have no real reguard in the protection of their captive animals then close the zoo and release the animals back to nature..god will care for all his creatures one way or another…



  36. Monica Boucher-Romano says:

    No one but the parents can be held responsibly for this tragedy. Please watch your children! If you cannot watch them, DO NOT HAVE THEM.

  37. JJ says:

    The animal should have been tranquilized not shot either way he would have fallen. The stupid parents are totally to blame for not watching their kids, she was probably taking selfies or on her fricking phone! She should be in jail for child neglect. In all of these circumstances the animal pays the ultimate price…death!!

  38. Susan says:

    Frankly, Africa has proven to be not a safe place for most Wildlife Animals … while zoos are not a wonderful substitute for a native habitat, there are a few which work to provide for the animals safety and well-being. Those zoos which are in business purely for profit and which place human entertainment above respect for the animals are always going to be remiss in security for the animals. Sanctuaries where the animals have privacy and good support could conceivably utilize non-intrusive cameras so humans can see them and learn to appreciate them as Beings worthy of respect. We might consider that all humans have much to learn as to how we view other species. Humans notoriously have treated all other species as being of lesser value. Change that perception before casting aspersions on those who merely mirror humanity’s biggest failure.

  39. marcia sliwinski says:


  40. Joseph Collins says:

    It’s long overdue that zoos and other similar enclosures be shut down and animals be left where they belong: free and in the wild.

  41. robert dowling says:

    what a waste. one of the most magnificent animals on the face of the earth-SILVERBACK GORILLA-not to many animals in the animal kingdom that reach that level. 17 years old and killed because of all around indifference by humans whomprofess love and caring for animals. zoos should relegated to the trash heap of old history, animals in the wild or at the least some form of sanctuary befitting the particular animaland what the ultimate ability of the humans providing the sanctuary can handle. we should do no less, when the animals are gone and we are here alone, it will get real lonely, wise up people. thanks. bob.

  42. Diane Rooney says:

    I support your comments re: commercial zoos but must add my belief that the parents are scum. Dad has long criminal record, mother is negligent. Did nothing when brat continued to say he was going into the enclosure. Now seeking a big settlement from the zoo. So less funding available to take care of the animals there. We can afford to lose a couple million kids but NOT ONE SILVERBACK!!

  43. pam says:

    I agree shut down the zoos and set these animals free to live in there normal habitat. Why should the suffer so we can view them.

  44. Sue says:

    When the petition was finally submitted to the Prosecutor in order to charge the mother with…something….there were over 500,000 signatures. All those signatures and the Prosecutor still didn’t charge her with anything.

  45. Darci Michaels says:

    Shut down ALL of the zoos and circuses that use animals for “entertainment””education”. I agree with the author. These institutions do nothing for the humane treatment or propertied education of animals. If you want to understand them then google them or visit them in their natural environment.

  46. Let’s set up sanctuaries rather than zoos. Zoos are old fashioned and really do nothing to protect endangered species like Harambe. The animals live a horrible quality of life similar to that of a prisoner serving a life sentence. Many never breed in captivity for those reasons. They are smart and sensitive enough not to mate under such duress. If we can evolve as a society and shut down zoos, then there won’t be any more tragedies like this. The parents of the child should be prosecuted for child neglect at the very least. Maybe in the near future, society can look back on zoos as an institution of a barbaric past.

  47. George Sidoti says:

    No more animals in zoo’s!

  48. Mary A Jaes says:

    Most of the animals in zoos were born in captivity, and need to be sent to a sanctuary – couldn’t survive in the wild. Yes the parent(s) should have been more diligent, especially since the child had already said he was going in the habitat. And the zoo’s barrier from the gorilla habitat was not sufficient. Both the parents and the zoo should be fined. Should be a zoo monitor at all habitats of animals – the zoos sure make enough montey to fund their salaries. Caretakers should better trained in distracting animals such as Harmabe. Those stupid spectators didn’t help any either – yelling at Harambe, and intensifying his stress. Should have had someone out there, clearing the area of people or at least instructing the crowd to shut up. caretakers weren’t properly trained at all. Killing Harambe should have been the last resort. I understand the child was in danger – but if the child were mine – he would know to mind what I say the next time – he would be disciplined once his injuries healed. IF that had been me at that age, I would have known to follow a directive from one of my parents. The zoo needs to correct the safety of all animal habitats amd the parents should be made to do community service at the zoo, like shoveling crap for a year!

  49. C. J. says:

    Who was supposed to be watching that stupid child? Who was supposed to protect Harambe?
    Haram be did nothing wrong! To kill him was absolutely wrong and never should have happened. It’s obvious the parents are after money, that’s all they care about. It’s their irresponsibility that caused Harambe’s death. These parents don’t deserve one penny. They should be made to pay for Harambe’s “funeral”. He’s dead
    because of them and their so called parenting. All zoos,
    circuses, and the like should be fined and shut down, and the animals given everything that is natural to them. I have such rage at these parents. Now they are suing….Harambe’s death is on their hands. But they don’t care! these parents are so despicable. It is about
    parenting, contrary to others beliefs. These parents should NOT be allowed to sue, but should be forced to build a plaque/shrine in honor of Harambe.

  50. Jocelyn says:

    Zoos are just animal jails they take the animals from there natural habitat

  51. rudy wolf says:

    There are less than 3 hundred of these gorillas left in the world, male silverbacks, there are 3 billion kids in the world, you figure it out. Shoot the kid, one less stupid kid , they could have sent in a congressman or senator to save the kid, or the pope…stop killing our animals should be the first priority of any zoo.. no child under the age of 18 should be allowed to go to a zoo, and no parent bringing in 20 kids, should be neutered instead of going to a zoo. Stay home with your brood, don, t come in to tease the animals..

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