Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The 450 Pound Gorilla

Harambe, the rare 450 pound gorilla, lived in a quasi-prison called the Cincinatti Zoo. Yesterday he was shot to death as he watched over a toddler who had fallen into his watery pen. 

Looking at footage of the event, one wonders what was actually going on in the mind of that amazing creature. For most of the time before his demise, he sat protectively next to the child, occasionally shifting his body posture slightly - almost as if he was wondering how the child should be picked up. The gorilla looked much like an inept dad who doesn't have much experience handling a young'un.

Then, at least twice, he grabbed the child by the seat of his pants and swept him to another part of the pen. That action triggered a memory of watching a documentary called "Blackfish," where an orca whale in captivity pulled his trainer under and swished her around until she drowned. Another fear rose to the surface as well - elephants who have turned on their trainer and stomped them to death.

Given the history of wonderful mammals boiling over in captivity and lashing out at their captors, it does give rise to the thought that maybe this gorilla was dangerously deranged. 

However, in my estimation, this was not the case with said gorilla. It is telling that the young child was not screaming or crying or even trying to move away. He sat quite patiently facing the gorilla. His mother was calling to him, "I love you, mommy's here" yet the child did not acknowledge her. Even after his speed rides through the water gratis the gorilla, the child did not cry. Maybe he was having fun?

Granted, if it were my child in that pen, I might have panicked and felt that the gorilla should be eliminated. But it would be nice to think that we as a group would have encouraged the gorilla with kind words and thoughts as dart guns put him to sleep.

In the grand scheme of existence, the life of a gorilla and the life of a child are of equal value. Nonetheless, as humans we will always have a deep instinct to protect our own...a deep genetically programmed survival response that cannot be wished away.

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