A 4-year-old boy was lucky to be alive Saturday after falling into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo in a horrifying incident that ended with the 400-pound primate being shot dead.
The unidentified child crawled through a barrier and fell roughly 12 feet into the gorilla cage about 4 p.m., officials said.
A hulking 17-year-old male gorilla named Harambe grabbed the child and carried him into a moat. “It seemed very much by our professional team...to be a life-threatening situation,” Cincinnati Zoo President Thane Maynard said in an afternoon press conference.
The ape was dragging around the boy for about 10 minutes before the zoo's Dangerous Animal Response Team moved in and shot the endangered primate.
“It's a sad day all around," Maynard said. “They made a tough choice and they made the right choice. Because they saved that little boy's life. It could have been very bad.”
Maynard acknowledged that the gorilla wasn’t attacking the child but “all sorts of things could happen in a situation like that.”
The child was swiftly plucked out of the primate pen and rushed to an area hospital. He was initially reported to be in serious condition with non-life-threatening injuries.