Watchdog group blames Cincinnati Zoo

CINCINNATI (AP): The Latest on the killing of a gorilla after a child fell into its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo (all times local):

9 a.m.

An animal protection watchdog group wants the federal government to hold the Cincinnati Zoo responsible for the death of an endangered western lowland gorilla.

The Cincinnati-based Stop Animal Exploitation NOW says the U.S. Department of Agriculture that inspects zoo facilities should fine the zoo for having an exhibit in which people can gain access to animals. The USDA and Cincinnati Zoo didn’t immediately respond Tuesday morning to requests for comment.

Zoo director Thane Maynard has repeatedly defended the shooting Saturday of the 17-year-old gorilla as necessary to save the 4-year-old who fell into the enclosure. He says the zoo is safe.

The watchdog group’s executive director, Michael Budkie, says the zoo has had past problems. In March, two polar bears wandered through an open den door into a service hallway.

6 a.m.

The director of the Cincinnati Zoo says it remains safe for its 1.6 million annual visitors despite a weekend tragedy in which a gorilla was fatally shot to protect a 4-year-old boy who had entered its exhibit.

Thane Maynard, however, said a review is underway to determine any improvements that can make the zoo safer.

The male western lowland gorilla named Harambe was killed Saturday by a special zoo response team that feared for the boy’s safety. Video taken by zoo visitors showed the gorilla at times appeared protective of the boy but also violently dragged him through the shallow moat.

Maynard said the decision to kill the gorilla was the right one. He said the gorilla was agitated and disoriented by the commotion after the boy fell.


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