The Latest: Mom of boy in gorilla pen shouted: ‘Be calm!’

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Latest on the shooting of a Cincinnati Zoo gorilla after a child got into its enclosure (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

In a 911 call, the mother of the 3-year-old boy who entered a Cincinnati Zoo gorilla enclosure pleads for help while shouting at him repeatedly: “Be calm!”

The woman isn’t identified in the 911 call released Wednesday by Cincinnati police, but she tells the dispatcher her son has fallen into the gorilla exhibit and a male gorilla is standing over him. The dispatcher tells her that responders are on their way, and the woman yells four times: “Be calm!”

Then she says: “He’s dragging my son! I can’t watch this!”

The zoo later fatally shot the gorilla to protect the boy.

The boy’s family released a statement saying he continues to do well and expressing gratitude to the Cincinnati Zoo for protecting his life Saturday.


4 p.m.

The Cincinnati Zoo suggests a gorilla conservation effort in the Republic of Congo would be a fitting beneficiary for donations in memory of an endangered gorilla who was fatally shot to protect a boy who had entered its enclosure.

Instead of accepting donation offers, the child’s family suggested they be given to the zoo in the name of Harambe. The 17-year-old western lowland gorilla was killed Saturday at the zoo because authorities feared for the child’s life.

Video taken by zoo visitors showed the gorilla at times appeared protective of the boy but also violently dragged him through the shallow moat.

Zoo spokeswoman Michelle Curley said Wednesday that the Mbeli Bai Study in the Republic of Congo could take the monetary gifts.


2:50 p.m.

A state lawmaker from Cincinnati says she’s confident that zoo officials exercised “their best professional judgment” by fatally shooting an endangered gorilla to protect a 3-year-old boy who entered its enclosure.

Authorities killed the 17-year-old male gorilla named Harambe on Saturday at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Democratic state Rep. Denise Driehaus (DREE’-hows) says Wednesday that losing Harambe is tragic, but the community can take comfort in knowing that the zoo’s actions prevented serious injury or death to the boy.

Online petitioners have called for new legislation. One petition seeks legal consequences when an endangered animal is hurt or killed because of negligence by visitors.

In her statement, Driehaus stressed the importance of not jumping to conclusions before the results of investigations by local and federal officials.


2:05 p.m.

A record of police calls shows nine minutes passed between the first emergency call about a 3-year-old boy falling into the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla enclosure and when the child was safe.

Authorities fatally shot the 17-year-old male gorilla Saturday to protect the boy.

The summary of incident calls obtained by The Associated Press through a records request includes descriptions of the gorilla holding the boy on top of rocks in the enclosure and swinging the child back and forth.

The calls also show preliminary references to the child being a girl, a sign of the initial confusion around what had happened.

Cincinnati police say they are investigating actions by the boy’s family leading up to the fall. They say they’re not investigating zoo operations.


10:30 a.m.

An Ohio legislator from Cincinnati says there’s no reason to believe that a new law is needed for such situations as the killing of a zoo gorilla after a small child got into his enclosure.

State Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, had said earlier he would look into possible legislation providing for fines or criminal charges for negligence resulting in the death of an endangered animal. He says in a statement to The Associated Press he has concluded that existing state laws are adequate.

Online petitioners have called for new legislation.

Thomas adds that he understands “that emotions are high after the tragic event” at the zoo Saturday. He says zoo officials made “a difficult decision to save the life of a child.”


8 a.m.

The family of the 3-year-old boy who got into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo says he is “still doing well.”

The family released a statement Wednesday morning through a representative saying he just had a checkup by his doctor. They say they continue to “praise God,” and are thankful to the zoo for “their actions taken to protect our child.”

Zoo staffers shot and killed the endangered 17-year-old western lowland gorilla named Harambe on Saturday after concluding the boy’s life was in danger.

The family expresses thanks to those expressing concern and support. It says some people have offered money and they recommend a donation to the Cincinnati Zoo in Harambe’s name.

Spokeswoman Gail Myers says they have no comment on a Cincinnati police investigation into their actions.


7:10 a.m.

While police in Cincinnati are investigating the child’s parents and federal inspectors plan their own review, the Cincinnati zoo says it will look at whether it needs to reinforce the barriers even though it considers the enclosure more secure than what’s required.

“The exhibit is safe, the barrier is safe,” said zoo director Thane Maynard, who noted the exhibit is routinely checked by federal inspectors and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which also plans to investigate what happened.

The breach, the zoo director said, was the first time a visitor had entered the zoo’s Gorilla World, which opened in 1978 and was billed as the first “bar-less” outdoor gorilla habitat in the nation.

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