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Harambe: 1 Year Removed

On this day last year, Harambe was the talk of the internet.



As an unapologetic super fan of Caesar in the Planet of the Apes, and with The War for the Planet of the Apes movie on its way this summer, I'd like to express some thoughts regarding this subject.



For those who are not familiar with what happened this day, here is a brief synopsis:



Good old Harambe was casually hanging out in his not so natural habitat, located in the Cincinnati Zoo.  While him and his gorilla friends were enjoying some fresh air in their faux pond, and talking about gorilla things, a young child watching the exhibit became increasingly interested in participating in said gorilla things with Harambe and the boys.



Just as any young child would do when this type of curiosity strikes, the young Tarzan decided to take matters into his own hands, scurried under the gate, over some shrubbery, and leaped (aka fell) into the water where Harambe and his boys were cooling off.



Startled by the splash, Harambe decided to go over and see what all the commotion was, as his friends fled the scene.



At this moment in time, camera phones had now been directed towards Harambe and Tarzan to record the situation, which is an entirely different issue to be discussed at another time.



As onlookers gasped with fear in the video, we see what seems to be Harambe shielding a fearless Tarzan from the paparazzi between a literal rock and a hard place.  Shortly after, we see an interesting mix of aggressive force and gentle nature as we watch Harambe recklessly pulling Tarzan through the water then calmly caressing and positioning him...only to repeat this process one more time when Tarzan stood on his feet.



In closing, Harambe's life was sacrificed, which sent the viral cesspool ablaze. 



Questions surrounding the parents of young Tarzan arose, while questions regarding Harambe's nature began to stir.  No questions were asked louder than the most controversial question of this story...



Was Harambe's untimely departure from Earth necessary?



A year later, maybe alone in this, I sit here wondering the same thing.



With so many factors to take into account, I wonder what the correct answer is, or if there is a correct answer at all.



I do enjoy gorillas and have enjoyed them since I was very young.  With that, I can empathize with the primate community in their mourning.



That being said, throughout my independent studies on gorillas over the years, I also know that they are strong and unpredictable, and at the end the day are wild animals, captured and required to live naturally in an unnatural habitat.  Not the best combination.



On the flip side, young Tarzan clearly wasn't prepared to be swinging from trees or to speak to Harambe in his native tongue, so there's legitimacy in the attempt to get young Tarzan out safely by any means necessary.



After going through all of these factors, in my opinion, the only question that really matters is...what is being done now to reduce the possibilities of this happening again?  Signage is not good enough.



This is not the first time that an animal/human encounter ended in a less than ideal fashion.  I'd like to believe it could be the last, but that would be naive unless actual steps forward are taken.



Considering the fact that we can't speak to gorillas (aside from Caesar, of course), it is probably best that we don't put them in positions to act like gorillas in an environment where we don't really want them to.  Once a scenario like this happens, gorillas will do exactly what gorillas do, and that of course is, act like a gorilla.  Proper barricades should be a requirement, not an option.



I understand wanting to make the exhibit seem as jungle like as possible, but a secured glass with no places to slip through doesn't hurt anyone...



Also, I don't think any gorilla looks up a 15 foot concrete wall, topped with pretend trees and vines, serving as a gate and thinks "Wow, this feels like home". 



Let's face it, they know that they can't run freely outside of the parameters of their exhibit (also something gorillas do), and are probably bothered by it.  In the event that anything breaks the daunting routine of being a zoo animal, such as someone falling in, chances are they will revert back to gorilla ways.  It's hard for me to say that that shouldn't be expected.



I don't know how I feel about Zoos in general, but I know that there is definitely room for improvement. I do like going to them, but am torn knowing the unrealistic expectations placed on the animals, particularly the gorillas...and the lions too...



So on this fateful anniversary, I extend a hand of love to Harambe, his family and those who loved him.  I hope all is well.  I extend a hand of love to young Tarzan and his family, hoping that he has acquired more of the necessary skills to do whatever he chooses in life, and has bounced back from this day.



And lastly, I extend a hand of love to the Zoo.  Since you aren't going to shut down the Zoo, I hope that in the pursuit of authenticity, you don't neglect human error. It's the least you could after taking the gorillas away from from their home. Harambe and Tarzan both paid for that, and most likely, both probably knew they were in a Zoo despite the efforts to mask that fact.



Until next time,


Long Live The People

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