Harambe was beautiful, gentle and a bit of a tease. That’s according to one former caretaker.
But the animal’s placid demeanor makes it easy to forget that gorillas are huge, powerful and have the potential to be extremely dangerous, says former zookeeper Amanda O’Donoughue, whose perspective on Harambe’s death in a Facebook post has been viewed almost 1 million times.
Workers at the Cincinnati Zoo had to kill the endangered western lowland silverback gorilla Saturday after a 3-year-old boy managed to get into the animal’s enclosure. Video showed Harambe dragging the boy around before zoo personnel shot the 450-pound gorilla.
O’Donoughue told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday that Harambe was doing what male gorillas do –protecting his group.
“Seeing his posturing and the way his lips were rolled under and the way he was dragging the boy around in the water was terrifying,” she said.
“It’s terrifying to watch.”
Harambe’s death has sparked outrage, with some people criticizing the boy’s mother for losing track of her son and zoo officials for killing the gorilla.
O’Donoughue, a former zookeeper with the Knoxville, Tennessee, Zoo, said that gorillas were her favorite animals to work with, but she never forgot how deadly they could be.
In her Facebook posting, she wrote that gorillas have the strength of 10 men and that Harambe could have seriously injured the boy, even if he didn’t mean him any harm.
O’Donoughue said she always checked and rechecked the locks on enclosures to make sure animals couldn’t get into the areas where she was working.
Instead of pointing fingers, she said that people who loved Harambe should focus on conservation efforts to help other gorillas.