Stop! Don’t!


I’ve never met anything like our current Miss4. Where, at 2yrs of age, our other children might have wandered off, she bolted. Where the others might have stood on tippy toes to see over something, she climbed. Where the others might have caused my heart to falter, she caused it to leap into my throat and stop words from coming out – much needed words like Stop! and Don’t!

I wasn’t going to write anything about the incident where a 4 year old made his way into the zoo enclosure of a gorilla, but I saw a Facebook comment I agreed with which justified the sad decision to end Harambe’s life, despite it being a heartbreaking turn of events. I shared. People commented. It was a good ‘chat’, which is one of the things I love about Facebook.

This incident is a time to be upset for the gorilla, sad for the zoo staff, and relieved for the boy and his family – but instead so many have decided it’s a time to be angry.

Did the zoo staff do the right thing? Surely the gorilla was protecting the child, not about to harm it. Couldn’t they have tranquillised the gorilla instead of killing it? How was a child able to breach the enclosure? Why are we keeping animals in zoos in the first place?

And most condemning of all, where was the mother?

What I loved was people were working through these questions on my site in a very civilised and respectful way. Questions were asked and answers were sought and given. The zoo staff didn’t think they had any choice. Gorillas aren’t used to handling comparatively fragile human children. Tranquillisers take minutes to work and would likely have pissed the gorilla off. We can’t communicate with gorillas to the extent we can those other dangerous primates commonly known as humans. There can be no hostage negotiation.There hasn’t been a similar breach of an enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo in forty years of similar habitats.  Zoos serve educational, research and conservation roles.

As someone correctly pointed out in my thread, yes there’s a few billion of us and this is an endangered species but if that was my child in that enclosure I’d have wanted my child put first. I totally agree, and I think anyone who doesn’t is a liar.

This was a horribly sad outcome, not least because there are so few gorillas left and there’s a concerted global effort to save them. But then, I’m pretty sure the zookeepers were well aware of this when they took the decision to shoot what was basically their pet of seventeen years. What must that have felt like?

I mean, we’ve had to put down a family dog who was with us for years and you don’t decide to do it lightly.

Then consider that for some of the staff at the zoo this beautiful animal was their source of income and a means of paying the rent and putting food on the table. And before you start thinking they can just get a job somewhere else, consider there aren’t that many gorilla keeper jobs going. And picture the job interview:

“Seventeen years in gorilla care experience is impressive. But tell me, why did you leave your last job?”

“My gorilla died.”

“How sad. And the cause of death? Cancer? Stroke? Bowel obstruction?”

“Oh, I shot it.”

“Thank you for coming in. These gentlemen will escort you off the premises.”

There were no winners here.

Then there’s the mother, who I’d now started to realise had been copping a barrage of criticism for ‘allowing’ the incident to happen. She was there with three other kids, including a baby. Can I just say, a parent with a four month old baby taking a group of kids to a zoo for an outing deserves praise, coffee and warm hugs.

Instead, because this happened to one of her children, she’s being hammered.

Someone informed the conversation there’s even a petition calling for her and her husband to be investigated for negligence. Incredibly, the petition states, ‘We the undersigned actively encourage an investigation of the child’s home environment in the interests of protecting the child and his siblings from further incidents of parental negligence…’

Because a child got away from its parent?!

Kids do that. It happens. In my experience, quite a lot. I lost one of my children for two hours the other day and didn’t even realise it. Tracey went out and left me in charge, and I thought she’d taken Miss4 with her. Instead, Miss4 was in her bed having a nap. Unsupervised. I didn’t know.

Where’s my petition?!

The Justice For Harambe petition as at 9.30am, Bne time.
The Justice For Harambe petition on as at 9.30am. Only 110k more perfect parents’ names needed to reach its 500k target.


I think you’d be hard put to find a parent who hasn’t lost a child for a few minutes. And the ones who are saying they haven’t are probably being criticised for being overprotective.

And then, with everything moving along nicely and people basically agreeing we weren’t there, we can’t know the exact circumstances, parents need to cut each other some slack and feeling sorry for the Harambe, the whole thread disappeared not just from my BFLI Facebook wall but also from my personal wall and, when I looked into it, the original source.

The petition, though, was still going strong.

Which is when I decided to get my ranty pants on and start typing. If 390,111 can express their condemnation of this mother, then why can’t people who, like me, think people who waste their time putting their name to it are rather a rude bunch of finger-pointing, hate-mongering, mother-guilting, troll-following, chest-thumping, ass-sniffing dolts full of self-importance over how much more adulty they would have handled this ill-conceived adventure by a four year old, have our chance to put our thoughts forward and support everyone involved – the zoo, the keepers and the mother.

At the end of the day, that kid could only have remained unscathed for so long in that enclosure. Gorillas are stronger than us. Not twice as strong or three times as strong – they’re six to fifteen times as strong as a fit person. Bench pressing pretty girls for Youtube won’t help you. The blackest of martial arts belts won’t help you. You can’t wrestle with a gorilla unless it wants to play really, really nice. What’s more, being so strong and humans being so comparatively delicate, it wouldn’t necessarily have been a deliberate act of aggression by Harambe which hurt or killed the boy.

A decision was made. And I, for one, support the professionals at the zoo who made it.

Because, even though at one point it looked like the gorilla was protecting the boy, I don’t actually know what the gorilla was thinking. And if you claim you do you’re committing something called personification, which works a treat in Disney films but not so much with actual wild animals.

I don’t even know for sure what the zookeepers were thinking, and we’re the same species.

But I think I might just have an idea what was going through the mother’s mind when she realised what had happened – I suspect it was probably Stop! and Don’t!

Which just happen to be the same words which need to be directed at these hypocritical people who are condemning her for essentially being exactly like the rest of us – human.


If you want to see Ellie Moore’s post which Facebook killed it was reproduced on The Scientific Parent.

“Raising a family on little more than laughs”

Sharing is caring. Plus it really does make a difference. Thanks heaps.


  • i think you’ve said again, what most actual, for real, honest parents have been saying all along. My son just about got cleaned up by a bus in Fremantle a few months ago. He is 10, AND he was holding my hand. He just stepped out without looking. I WAS right there!! What more can you do? Accidents happen..Stupid stuff happens. People are stupid. People are amazing. Which people are you??

  • What I don’t understand is of all the people there, did nobody see the boy climb in? Surely if someone saw him they would have called out or tried to stop him. The mother is being heavily condemned because her son wondered off on her, & no one else saw him either. How does anyone know that she wasn’t already frantically looking for him before he even made it to the bottom of the enclosure. I’m sure no one expected the enclosure to be accessable by a 4 yr old, so I would guess that’s the last place anyone would look for him, including the mother. I really feel for everyone involved, especially the mother. It’s scary how quickly kids can wonder off on adventures by themselves.

    • They did. I’ve seen a response by one of the witnesses who was at the zoo that day, and people saw him climbing through the barrier – they tried to grab him but he moved too fast. Unfortunately I can’t find the link now.

    • My 3 year old also nearly made it into that stingray tank. Only saved by virtue of her wearing a hoodie I could grab! I got her down and she went straight back up for another attempt.

      • Oh thank God it’s not just me who’s nearly managed that (and had the repeat attempts!) It is something I keep meaning to bring up with them, it’s not so much the animals as the drowning risk that scares me.

  • The correct decision was made and as for a petition to investigate the parents, all I can say is it must be the US. There is no logical sense in harrassing the parents of FIVE children when all parents already know how impossible it is to keep your eyes on all of them at once. We had our second daughter at age 8 manage to escape her adult buddy at Rainbows End in Auckland for a FULL HOUR! We had our four children with us and each one had a buddy to keep an eye on them all because we understood it would be impossible to do so ourselves. Where was our daughter? Riding the Log Flume all by herself…thank the Lord it was nothing more dramatic or sinister… STOP WITH ALL THE GUILT!

  • As a person who works in the child protection field, i can assure you we don’t investigate based on a petition and i would hope our US counterparts don’t either! A sad story all round. No one wanted the gorilla shot, but realistically it was the only answer. Glad the little dude is safe. Every parents worst nightmare!

  • Well said. I’m a mother of three. I lost my second child, now 14, when he was 3 years old in a department store. I was with my elder son, 6 at the time, my three year old and my nanny. We were in the children’s clothing section looking at jeans. One second he was between us both the next he had vanished. I turned around to size him up for a pair of jeans and he had disappeared. Long story short, after running around crying and having the entire department store shut down i found him in the toy section sitting on floor playing with a truck. I will never forget that. I think most parents have a similar story.its amazing how so many people have lost their compassion and become mean nasty individuals who dance upon the misfortune of others. My heart aches for Harambe. It was a terrible accident.

  • I so agree with you. I had a 3 year old that got away from me in a parking lot. He thought he could run all the way to the car before i got there. I screamed for him to stop. He stopped long enough to smile & me then kept running. It can happen in a instant. Any mother who said they havent taken their eyes off their child is a liar. Most of the people condemning are either not a parent or an animal lover. Human life is so much more valuable than a gorilla. Is it sad? Yes. But the zoo had no other choice.

  • With all due respect, would you be as blase about your child being in bed having a nap if there was gorilla in the room? I’m sure you wouldn’t.
    People sounded off and the keyboard-warriors will always be present. The biggest point that appears to be overlooked is the fact that amongst other things, zoos have a responsibility to make both the animals and visitors “safe and secure”. What part of either of those two words involve being overcome by a child? Zoos really need to look at whether their fencing works or not. The fact that this has happened more than once (remember the “Jambo” incident) is completely unnecessary. This was entirely preventable by the zoo.

    • I would be blasé at a zoo. Generally. I was extra vigilant at Australia Zoo where the kangaroos are wandering about freely with people, but not looking in the crocodile exhibits. And crocodiles scare me a LOT more than kangaroos lol

  • I agree and was cross when I saw a comment attacking the mother, I responded to have someone comment back “a mistake is putting your bin out on the wrong night” some people are plain dumb!
    I have to agree though that maybe more appropriate fencing or enclosures should be sought. The tiger enclosures at dreamworld are similar. And I bet there would be no second thought about shooting a lion or tiger in the same circumstance…

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