Reports are circulating today about the horrifying moment at the Cincinatti Zoo yesterday when a little boy fell or jumped into the gorilla enclosure. Somehow he got through the barriers and landed in a shallow moat. One of the gorillas went to the boy and dragged him away, presumably in an effort to protect him from the screaming onlookers. As the gorilla became more agitated, the zoo officials, knowing that a tranquilizer gun would not take effect quickly and fearing for the boy’s life, made the agonizing decision to shoot to kill. With the gorilla down, the boy was rescued and taken to the hospital.
The officials who made the call to sacrifice the gorilla in order to save the boy are heroes. Or villains, depending on who you hear.
There is an outrage among the general public, who apparently all were eyewitnesses and have detailed, inside information about exactly what happened, what the conditions were, the general temperament of the gorilla, the likelihood of the tranquilizer working, the capability of the child’s mother to parent him, and every other factor in the incident. Oh wait. That’s right. They don’t really know anything.
Let’s think about this. The people at that zoo are not just going to needlessly kill one of their animals. They work there because they care about animals. They had seconds to make a decision. They would not have killed that animal if they didn’t think there was any other option that would keep both gorilla and child safe. They had to choose: allow the gorilla to live, leaving the boy in a perilous, unpredictable situation, or shoot it, guaranteeing the boy’s rescue. Gorilla or boy? Whose life is worth more? They made the right choice.
Our society is so insanely off course that there are thousands of people in outrage over the actions of the zoo. Apparently, because the gorilla was only acting according to its instincts, and because it was of an endangered species, they should have preserved its life, at whatever cost to the boy. Some have even said that since the parents obviously weren’t supervising their kid, they didn’t deserve to have their boy be the one to survive. One comment said something to the effect of, “There are 7 billion people in the world and only a few thousand lowland gorillas, so the gorilla’s life was obviously worth more.” Are you kidding me?
In a world were human life is increasingly devalued, this is what we get. In a world that has no comprehension of what it means that humans are created in the image of God and animals–while still awesome creatures worthy of protection and care–aren’t, people mistakenly assume that the life of a boy and the life of a gorilla are of equal status. Please don’t misunderstand–animals were created by God and humans were given dominion over them, which includes the task of caring for them. The senseless and purposeless killing of animals should never be condoned. But when there is a decision to be made between the life of a human vs the life of an animal, there is only one choice to make, and the zoo made it.
My mind is blown. I can barely put my thoughts into words. Let me just say two more things:
First, all who said the gorilla did nothing wrong and was only acting on instinct, you’re correct. Animals can’t do right and wrong. They can only act on instinct. This is proof that they are different from us. Proof that the value of the two lives were not the same. Animals acting on instinct kill humans every day. If you say this is the reason they shouldn’t have killed that gorilla,and you find your life in danger one day from an animal doing nothing wrong and acting on instinct, we’ll be sure to just use the tranquilizer and hope it works quickly enough.
And second, those who say their pets are their children and treat them like humans are off base as well, and the journey down the path of wrong thinking often starts here. Have a pet, love it, buy it treats and Christmas presents–that’s all fine. But when that pet’s status as an animal, i.e. nonhuman, becomes muddled in your mind and you begin to think it has the same level of value as a human life, then you are treading in dangerous waters. I probably just offended dozens of people, but it’s the truth. We need to be compassionate and responsible toward animals. But we must never lose sight of the fact that they are animals.
Ok–well one more thought. It’s easy and makes us feel self-righteous to blast the parents for letting the child get away. All the perfect parents are speaking out tonight, and a good percentage of them don’t even have kids. Let me just say, kids can get away from good parents. Either that, or I’m a negligent parent as well. I don’t know how that kid managed to get away from the mom long enough to get across the barrier. And guess what? None of the people blaming her know either. I do know that a kid can get away in the space of a heartbeat. So unless you saw it, please refrain from judgmental comments.
Life in general is precious. But when the choice is to save an animal or save a human, we must save the human every single time. There is no question.