Family of boy who fell into Harambe’s enclosure were forced ‘go into hiding’

A family were forced to go into hiding after their son fell into a gorilla’s enclosure, resulting in zoo staff killing the animal.

A three-year-old boy climbed into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. The child was then grabbed and dragged by Harambe, a western lowland gorilla.

Fearing for the child’s life, staff shot and killed the 17-year-old gorilla. The death made headlines around the world, as Harambe became an internet sensation.

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Many people declared the death unnecessary, wondering why a non-lethal response could not have been utilised. Others blamed the child and his family for being “careless”.

Following backlash, three-year-old Isaiah Dickerson’s family were forced to go ‘into hiding’. The family feared for their safety after receiving death threats from the public.

The story is discussed in a new feature-length documentary which came out on September 24 – to tie with World Gorilla Day, as reported by LadBible.

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The documentary explores what happened to Harambe and animals in captivity in general. They also explore the failings that led to the horrific incident – including the three-foot barrier that stood between the gorilla and the public.

Photographer Jeff McCurry, who was responsible for the viral snap of Harambe, said: “Children tried to get into that so often. I had a standard speech that I gave to their parents when I would stop them from whatever they were doing that was dangerous.

“I would tell them, ‘We’re not worried about the gorilla killing your kid – that's a 13ft fall to a cement floor. Your child is gonna die when it hits the floor'. But I mean, that was every day.”

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But while the USDA found the zoo barriers were not safe, the outcry was against the mother of the little boy.

Despite the USDA ruling that the zoo barriers were not up to scratch. The family took the brunt of the backlash.

Narrator Pete Egan explains: “Petitions, death threats, local harassment by the public and terrible memes were used to express people’s anger about Harambe’s death.

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“But this anger was misplaced and ruined the family’s life – forcing them off social media, and into living in hiding to keep Isaiah and his siblings safe.”

At the time of the backlash, Dickeron’s mother Michelle Gregg took to Facebook to urge others not to ‘judge’.

She wrote in a post that was later deleted: “As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off a child. Accidents happen, but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place.”

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters also felt at the time that the case didn’t meet the legal definition of child endangerment after the woman’s son fell into the exhibit while she attended to her three other kids.

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“That parent must recklessly create a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child,” he said in a press conference.

Deters argued that the mother was neither reckless nor negligent – something many others have agreed with since.

McCurry added: “It was not their fault. You know, crazy stuff happens and it happened to them, but it’s not their fault.

“I just hope they don’t feel blamed because they’re not at blame, or at fault, at all – in any way.”

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