This Is Why I’m Not Going To Rush To Judge The Parent Whose Child Fell Into A Gorilla Habitat At The Zoo

This Is Why I’m Not Going To Rush To Judge The Parent Whose Child Fell Into A Gorilla Habitat At The Zoo

May 30, 2016, 8:20:49 PM News

When my son was 3-years-old, he was hit by a car.


To this day, I’m not sure how exactly it happened, because Lord knows that I had a death grip on his arm. All I know is that while we were at a festival in a large parking lot, my son saw some clowns making balloon animals, and he wanted one. To him, it wasn’t just any balloon animal. It was something magical, and I was throwing salt on his game by not allowing him to have one. He pointed to the balloon animals, cried, fell on the ground, ran around me, jumped up and down, and acted like a plum fool.


At that point, I knew that what he needed was a nap, so I told him that we were going home. I no longer felt like I could keep my son safe, because he was determined to run around the festival like a wild child.


As we were crossing a parking lot to go home, he saw the clowns making balloon animals again, and told me (yes, he told me) that he was going to go get one. Next thing I know, he wiggled out of my vice grip, darted right in front of a Dodge charger, and ended up on the ground laid out. Hearing myself yell “come back” and “no” was like an out of body experience, and it was the scariest moment of my life.


Thankfully, the Charger sustained more injuries than my son, and after a quick check up with his doctor, he determined that my son was fine. He was just an extremely strong willed kid who learned a big lesson on the dangers of doing his own thing.


What made this situation worse was the fact that every parent who got out of their cars to check on my son asked me why wasn’t I watching him, and what was wrong with me for allowing a child to dart across the parking lot? Even the cop who saw the whole thing was puzzled by their questions.


Perhaps this is why I wasn’t so quick to rush to judgement when I read news reports of the woman whose kid ended up in a Gorilla habitat with a 450 pound animal at the Cincinnati Zoo. According to, a mother was with several other children, and her strong willed 4-year-old, for a holiday weekend visit to the zoo. On several occasions, the boy told his mom that he was going to go into the gorilla habitat, and that’s what he did. reports,

Cincinnati Zoo President Thane Maynard said the boy crawled through a barrier and fell an estimated 10 to 12 feet into the moat surrounding the habitat. He said the boy was not seriously injured by the fall.

The Cincinnati Fire Department reported in a press release that first responders “witnessed a gorilla who was violently dragging and throwing the child.”

Maynard said the zoo’s 17-year-old male western lowland gorilla, Harambe, grabbed the boy and dragged him around. Two female gorillas were also in the enclosure.

The boy was with the 400-pound animal for about 10 minutes before the zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team deemed the situation “life-threatening,” Maynard said.

Video of the incident shows the gorilla caring for the little boy. But zookeepers determined the situation to be dire, and chose to kill the gorilla before the gorilla killed the child. News outlets have also reported that the little boy is fine, and sustained serious, non-life-threatening injuries. Thank goodness.


As sad as this situation is, I can’t say for sure that this parent was being neglectful. I had a vice grip on my son, and he still found a way to wiggle out of my arm to do his own thing. Granted, what I went through and what this parent went through is slightly different, but the underlying issue is that we both had strong willed kids who were determined to do whatever it was they wanted to do.


This is why I’d rather wait to see what the investigation determines before I condemn this parent. If the mom was taking a selfie, or glued to her phone, while her child was going into the gorilla habitat, then I could totally understand the social media outrage.


But I also know what it’s like to raise a child with a strong will. I know how powerless you feel when you watch your kid like a hawk, all but hold them down to keep them safe, and yet they still find a way to do their own thing. It’s tough!


Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if investigators find that this was just another case of a little kid wanting to do his own thing, by any means necessary.


What are your thoughts about the story?

Published by Joy Stokes


Jun 22, 2016, 1:22:39 PM

My 4 year old son is a runner-awayer. I am careful to take him to parks that are fenced. We don't go to places like the zoo unless my husband goes to help (we also have a 2 year old). I am careful. I repeat I am careful. And there have still been two times when he has gotten away from me that were pretty scare. It can happen to anyone in a second.

Jun 2, 2016, 5:01:29 PM

Great job, girl! That's all real talk.

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