Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters in Cincinnati did the right thing in declining to file charges against the mother of the 3-year-old whose flight resulted in the shooting death of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo.
The boy got away from his mother, climbed a 3-foot high barrier, went through bushes and fell 15 feet into a shallow moat. A 400-pound gorilla named Harambe dragged the boy through the moat on May 28.
That prompted the zoo’s dangerous animal response team to fatally shoot 17-year-old Harambe, figuring that the boy’s life was in danger. The boy was treated and released at an area hospital the day of the incident.
The mother had three other children with her, ages 1 to 7, The Associated Press reports. She had turned away “for just a few seconds” to tend to one of the other children when the 3-year-old got away.
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Anyone with children knows that a second is all it takes for a wayward kid to get beyond an adult’s grasp. No prosecutor could possibly go after every adult with a wandering child.
The incident, however, set off a storm of criticism and threats against the zoo for killing the gorilla and against the boy’s mother for not watching him more closely.
Deters, however, said the case didn’t warrant prosecutors filing charges against the mom for child endangerment. He also defended the mother, saying she was an attentive parent who didn’t deserve the abuse and threats.
The unnamed family in a statement said it was pleased with the prosecutor’s decision.
The Cincinnati Zoo reopened its Gorilla World exhibit on Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also plans to investigate the killing of the gorilla. An animal protection group is pushing for the examination.