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Gorilla Lives Matter?: Police to Investigate Family of Boy Who Fell into Cincinnati Zoo Exhibit

The moments following an incident where a 3-year-old fell into a gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. Photo courtesy of NBC News.
The moments following an incident where a 3-year-old fell into a gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. Photo courtesy of NBC News.

Public outcry over the death of a beloved gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo Saturday has pushed city officials to investigate the family of a young boy who accidentally fell into the gorilla’s habitat.

Michelle Gregg, a mother of four, was visiting the zoo with her children that day when her 3-year-old son managed to hoist himself over the railing and plummeted nearly 12 feet into the park’s Gorilla World exhibit. The child was then dragged around the enclosure by a 450-pound silverback gorilla named Harambe. Zoo officials decided to shoot and kill the endangered animal to save the child’s life.

Now, animal activists are calling for the boy’s parent’s to be investigated and even punished.

According to CNN.com, Cincinnati Police announced Tuesday that the child’s parents, Michelle Gregg and Deonne Dickerson, would be at the center of an investigation into the cause of Saturday’s frightening incident. Authorities say their review will primarily focus on “the actions of the parents/family that led up to the incident and [is] not related to the operation or safety of the Cincinnati Zoo.”

“After the review, we will determine if charges need to be brought forward,” said police spokeswoman Tiffaney Hardy. “If it is determined charges need to be brought forward, we would then discuss it with the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office.”

Police report that the boy was in his mother’s care at the time of the accident. His father was not present at the zoo that day.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office declined to say how long the investigation could take, CNN.com reports.

According to Reuters, animal rights groups have also made plans to file a federal negligence complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against the zoo.

The unfortunate incident at the Cincinnati Zoo sheds light on a blatant double standard concerning the importance of animal lives in comparison to human lives, specifically African-American ones.

No one seems to bat an eyelash when unarmed Black Americans lose their lives at the hands of white policemen. Yet following the death of Harambe, animal rights activists and celebrities alike flooded social media to condemn the boy’s family and the Cincinnati Zoo for choosing to shoot the gorilla. An online petition seeking “Justice for Harambe” has already garnered over 400,000 signatures, according to CNN.com

“Please sign this petition to encourage the Cincinnati Zoo, Hamilton County Child Protection Services, and Cincinnati Police Department hold the parents responsible,” it states.

Outcry over the death of an animal almost always seems to trump outcry over the death of a Black person.

“The bet is that if there was something called Gorilla Lives Matter, countless numbers would do something that they would never dreaming doing with Black Lives Matter, and that’s join it,” author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson wrote in a Eurweb article published Wednesday.

Hutchinson also cites the case of former NFL star Michael Vick, who was convicted of operating a dog-fighting ring back in 2007. The author says that although Vick served his time for the heinous crime, fans and animal lovers were still unforgiving when he returned to the league.

“The fact that Vick was black undoubtedly made him a soft and inviting target for prolonged condemnation, and it was said that if he had been a white quarterback, he would have gotten a pass,” he stated.

The author asserts that although the director of the Cincinnati Zoo is white, he still received major backlash from animal lovers everywhere for defending the killing of Harambe.

“The issue for them was not whether the killing was plausible, defensible, and justified to save a life, but simply that a beloved animal was killed,” Hutchinson stated.

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