The Cincinnati Zoo‘s Gorilla World exhibit has reopened for the first time since the tragic death of Harambe the Gorilla.
Late last month, the 17-year-old silverback gorilla was shot and killed after a toddler fell into the enclosure. Officials said tranquilizing the animal would agitate it, so the best thing for the child’s safety was to end the creature’s life.
The beautiful primate’s killing caused quite a bit of controversy, as people began to criticize the kid’s parents, as well as the zoo’s protocols.
And after a police investigation revealed the tiny tot’s mother would not be charged over the incident, zoo director Thane Maynard has decided it’s time open up the exhibit once again, telling Cincinnati.com:
“It’s been a very difficult time, as you can imagine, with the loss of Harambe…. Losing Harambe is just like losing a family member. People that work at zoos care about their animals very much. And so we are leaning on each other and sticking together, but of course it is time to move on and to see gorillas again.”
But he didn’t just reopen Gorilla World. Mr. Maynard and his team put in a new, taller, barrier that has wood beams at the top and bottom, as well as netting in between.
The zoo has also installed three security cameras.
And even though Thane increased the enclosure’s safety measures, he defended their old perimeter, saying:
“The exhibit we had was safe. It had been safe for 38 years. Over 43 million people came through this exhibit during that time. Every year it passed accreditation inspections through the [Association of Zoos and Aquariums]. It passed twice a year inspections from the [U.S. Department of Agriculture].”
But, the scary situation on May 28 caused the zoo’s higher ups to change the fence, because he added:
“Nonetheless, we felt a new, bigger barrier helps reinsure our visitors and guests and redoubles our effort to make sure that our animals are safe and that our visitors are as well.”
And Thane also took the opportunity to remind parents to always keep a careful eye on their children, stressing:
“We work hard every day to make sure that the Cincinnati Zoo is completely safe for visitors, guests, families, and children. I think this whole incident, as well as all the publicity, reinforces the idea that parents and kids need to stick together when they’re at the zoo.”
The zoo even went on Instagram to post a lengthy statement about the exhibit’s reopening. Ch-ch-check it out (below):
After being closed since the tragic death of 17-year-old silverback Harambe on May 28, 2016, the Gorilla World exhibit reopened to the public this morning. Zoo employees and volunteers gathered in the exhibit early this morning, before the Zoo opened, to see gorillas for the first time in ten days. Before reopening the exhibit, the Zoo installed a new, taller public barrier with knotted rope netting and surveillance cameras. In addition to fortifying the gorilla exhibit, the Zoo is redoubling its efforts to support wild gorilla conservation. The Cincinnati Zoo is proud to have supported and partnered with the Mblei Bai Study and related gorilla research efforts in North Congo for the past 15 years. “This has been a difficult and emotional time for everyone at the Zoo, especially Harambe├óΓé¼Γäós caretakers. We├óΓé¼Γäóve never been through anything like this, and the experience has been surreal,” said Zoo Director Thane Maynard. “I see today├óΓé¼Γäós reopening as the symbolic start of a healing process for our staff, our members and the Cincinnati community.”
A photo posted by Cincinnati Zoo (@cincinnatizoo) on Jun 7, 2016 at 10:15am PDT
Thane also says that the eight gorillas in the exhibit are “doing fine” after everything that happened.
[Image via Cincinnati Zoo/Instagram.]