Harambe’s Behavior May Have Been Normal Gorilla Play
Experts doubt that the gorilla was abnormally aggressive—but still think the Cincinnati Zoo made the right decision to shoot him.
Harambe—the western lowland gorilla shot and killed by Cincinnati Zoo officials on Saturday—wasn’t acting with abnormal aggression when he dragged a young child around after the boy fell into his enclosure.
“It’s difficult to say whether this was an aggressive display toward the crowd or a playful interaction,” says Terry Maple, an expert in animals’ psychological responses to captivity and the former head of Zoo Atlanta. “[But] I don’t think there was any real aggression toward the child.”
In fact, he leans toward interpreting Harambe’s behavior as playful, similar to the way adult male gorillas sometimes play with their offspring.
“To tell you the truth, what I saw in that film looked normal to me—in other words, normal gorilla behavior,” he