It’s a terrifying thought: finding yourself being dragged along in shallow water by a monster and being at their mercy. Okay, so perhaps it’s slightly far-fetched to refer to Harambe the gorilla as a monster, but one thing we do know for certain is that he is, or was, a wild animal.
Like most people I am a lover of animals, and I am not particularly keen on many of the limited enclosures wild animals find themselves in, be it in zoos or in those horrid environments they call circuses. Sure, there are some zoos and safari parks that do a good job in protecting animals, especially endangered species, and this work is important for the wellbeing of life on our planet. But broadly speaking, it is unfortunate when an animal is removed from its natural habitat and finds itself stuck in an enclosure for humans to gawp at.
Harambe the gorilla is an unfortunate case. How the four year old lad got into the enclosure is still to be made clear, but one thing is certain: he did get in there and he was at the mercy of a wild animal. It’s interesting to hear some animal ‘experts’ coming out and defending the gorilla, suggesting that the boy was in no danger because the gorilla was not “beating its chest” and that he was actually holding the boy’s hand. It doesn’t matter how many times a dog owner tells me “it’s okay, he loves children” as my little one inquisitively ambles towards their pooch; I am still reluctant to let them get too close. First, because a dog is an instinctively defensive animal that is unable to reason and could turn nasty at any given moment in time. And second, I know of too many instances where children have either been killed or seriously injured as a result of an animal attack.
It would be interesting if instead of a gorilla a pit-bull or Rottweiler had been dragging the little boy across a park. Would people feel similarly reluctant to harm the dog in order to save the child?
It is unfortunate that this little boy found himself in Harambe’s enclosure, and I’m sure the role of his parents and zoo staff will correctly be scrutinised as a result. But the bottom line is this: a little human child was in an enclosure with a large wild animal that had seen fit to recklessly drag him across a shallow pool of water and then stand over him. Nobody knew for certain what was going to happen next. The staff at the zoo had little choice but to put the interests of the child’s safety first, as they should. There was no room or time for risk taking.
A surge in animal welfare stories to the detriment of more pressing matters such as the Planned Parenthood abortion scandal suggests that our society is getting dangerously close to putting the welfare of animals before the wellbeing of humanity. Sure, we must work to look after the world God has gifted to us, including the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and the multitude of animals that roam the land. But we should not devalue human life in the process. Animals always have been and always will be inferior to human beings, as it is only humans that are made in the image and likeness of God.