What If…Questions Worth Asking About Harambe and Cincinnati Zoo

The world is in an uproar over the shooting death of Harambe, the gorilla that was killed over the weekend after a four three year old boy fell into his enclosure. The world has literally gone crazy over the event, villianizing the mother, and crying out for justice for the seventeen year old gorilla.

Matt Walsh, a conservative blogger, tried to bring a different perspective into the discussion by reminding us of how many unborn babies were killed the same day Harambe died. At least one of the responses to his blog post was truly horrific; too horrific to even describe beyond saying the responder doesn’t value human life the same way I do. And has interesting taste in drinks…

The vitriol is pretty intense. People have incredibly strong opinions about the zoo, the parents, and even the value of the life of that little boy. But let me ask a question…

What if the boy had died? 

Think about that for a minute. Not how many babies were aborted on Saturday (though that number is gut wrenching and horrific). Not how terrible the mother was to be taking a a photo with her phone instead of keeping a vice grip on the arm of her three year old son (but consider that if she had, someone may have reported her to Child Protective Services). Not how terrible it is that a majestic and rare gorilla is dead. Think about it…

What if the boy had died? 

Or, what if it had been your child in with the gorilla? 

Think about the consequences of that outcome…

Then think about SeaWorld…a trainer (an adult, mind you, not a child) was killed by Tilikim, the “Killer” Orca at SeaWorld in Florida in 2010. The tide of public opinion is turning against SeaWorld and while they haven’t gone out of business yet, their popularity has certainly taken a hit. And this over a woman who willingly chose to swim with a known predator. They’re called “Killer Whales” for a reason…

We can all throw stones at people when they fail to meet our expectations. But, most of us would whither under our own standards of accountability. And let me ask another question…even if the mother was neglecting her son (though I don’t think she was), what difference does our judgement make? 

Racing to pronounce judgement on the mother, her young son, or the zoo staff will not change the outcome or bring Harambe back to life. It just won’t. Why are we investing so much energy on something that can not be changed?!

And, more importantly, what can we change about the circumstances leading up to Saturday’s tragedy? That is a much more valuable, if complicated, question, with few (if any) easy answers…

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