Man’s inhumanity to ape

Nobody emerges well from the social media storm around the shooting of a zoo gorilla

Harambe, the 17-year-old gorilla, was shot by Cincinnati Zoo staff.  Jeff McCurry / Cincinnati Zoo / Cincinatti Enquirer via AP Photo
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Much has been said about the shooting of an endangered gorilla named Harambe after a three-year-old boy made his way into the animal’s enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo last weekend. The conversation has been especially heated on social media, with crude abuse, vitriol and outright threats directed towards the zoo, its staff and the child’s parents.

The irreversible fact is that a decision was made, by all accounts reluctantly, to kill the gorilla in case it turned on the boy.

It is easy for a keyboard warrior who’ll never be faced with such a choice in real life to sit in judgment one way or the other. Yes, the role of zoos in modern society and the extent of parental responsibility are important issues that should be discussed, but with calm and reason, not in the hysterical manner we have seen in online forums these past few days.

The reaction to the fate of this unfortunate animal has said a lot about the cruelty of human nature in the age of social media.