Gorillas, parents, and property rights


A 400-lb gorilla, Harambe, was shot and killed this weekend after a 3-year-old boy climbed over the fence of his enclosure.  The gorilla dragged the boy around for a bit until zoo officials decided that their only option was to kill the gorilla.

It’s one of those situations you don’t want to find yourself in.  While the parents of the child should have been more vigilant and should have never let their son climb over the fence in the first place, given my understanding of the situation, I agree with the decision to shoot and kill the gorilla.  In my view, the value of a human life supersedes an animal’s life, even if neither the animal nor its owner is at fault for the situation.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Some might say that the zoo should design their park so that it’s much more difficult for a child to get into cages.  I suppose they could build 20-ft brick walls around the cages, but that kind of defeats the purpose of the zoo.  There has to be a balance (and that’s not to say that zoos are unsafe) and parents and other patrons have to not be stupid.

I can’t stab myself in the eye with a fork at a restaurant and then blame the restaurant for losing my eye.

Let’s not forget that there are always numerous signs warning against getting too up close and personal with the animals.  By entering the zoo, you agree to these rules.  It may seem silly that I have to bring this up, but it’s important to mention because the consequence of breaking these rules may not seem as obvious.

The zoo should have the right to sue the family of the child for damages.  Animals at zoos are expensive to take care of and animals like gorillas tend to be main exhibits.  They are the moneymakers.  The zoo should not have to absorb the costs of having to destroy the gorilla on their own.  Now the fact of the matter is that there is likely no way that the family would have sufficient funds to pay the damages.  This is where another product of the market comes into play: insurance.

So yes, parents need to watch their kids better.  There is no excuse for your child making his way into a gorilla enclosure.  Animals should not have to die for being animals.