The mother of the boy who fell into an enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo – leading to the death of its gorilla, Harambe – will face no charges, prosecutors have announced.
The boy – who remains unidentified – fell into the zoo’s gorilla exhibit while visiting with his family on May 28. An incident which led to zoo staff having to shoot and kill their 17-year-old silverback gorilla Harambe to prevent any possible attack.
Speaking in a press conference, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said:
This mother did not act in any way that she presented this child any harm. The 3-year-old just scampered off.
Prosecutors had been investigating the incident to see whether the boy’s mother, Michelle Gregg, should face charges for negligence. But the probe found that she played no role in her son’s near-fatal fall.
Deters claimed she was ‘a very attentive mother who simply turned her back’.
Gregg had faced heavy criticism on social media from many who believed she should have been keeping a closer eye on her child, with animal rights campaigners protesting the gorilla’s swift killing.
Deters added that he was pretty shocked by the amount of attention the incident had been getting, but still believed the zoo made the right call to shoot Harambe.
It’s still an animal. It does not equate to human life, and (zoo workers) felt this boy’s life was in jeopardy, and they made the painful choice to do what they did.
Moments before the boy climbed over the barrier at the exhibit and fell 15 feet into the shallow moat below, he apparently told his mum that he wanted to swim with the gorilla.
Zoo visitors recorded footage of Harambe grabbing the boy and pulling him through the moat, before appearing to protect the boy as onlookers shrieked.
The boy’s family have expressed gratitude to the zoo for protecting his life.