It’s Not About A Gorilla

Pour a stiff one, today’s topic has been the most controversial story in the news since we tried to solve the color of the blue and black dress.

This post isn’t going to be the same as the hundreds you’ve probably read by now. I’m not going to yell at some mother I don’t know from Adam for being irresponsible, I’m not going to call for zoos to be closed, I’m not going to say that animals have no rights, and I’m not going to say I’m glad the gorilla died. Instead, I’m going to ask you: why are you saying those things?

It’s not news by now that a gorilla was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo over the weekend when a 3-year-old child fell into the exhibit. If you still haven’t seen the video, watch CBS’s report about it here.

My initial reaction was probably similar to many of yours. “Oh no, here’s another case of a careless mother letting their child run around and a poor gorilla died because of it.”

Well, unlike the rest of the planet, I waited, read some stories and really went on about my day. Because honestly, on Memorial Day weekend, there were a few things more important than the death of a gorilla at a zoo. Like the death of our heroes who allow us to waste time fighting about animals. But that’s for later.

After having read some reports, hearing different arguments and listening to various witnesses, I have come up with my opinions about what happened, and they are…

What is wrong with us? Are we really so far divided that we’re being torn apart because an animal died?

I don’t care what side of this debate you’re on, whether you say zoos are evil prisons that misuse animals and a poor gorilla was shot because of a stupid careless human, or if  you say the gorilla deserved to die because they don’t provide us with anything and the kid needed to be saved. Both sides have been extreme and both sides are so disappointing.

Let’s take a look at the facts. According to multiple eyewitnesses, the mother of the child had another baby in a stroller that she turned to attend to for somewhere between 10-20 seconds. During that short time, about the time it takes a person to ingest a bite of good-ole zoo funnel cake, the toddler ran away toward the gorilla’s cage so sporadically that the other witnesses couldn’t even catch him before he jumped in. In the video you can hear the mother screaming hysterically, pleading for her son to be rescued, trying helplessly to calm him down.

Now according to many animal scientists, including Jack Hanna (yes, the cool old guy that always brings the animals onto The Tonight Show), the gorilla was in a defensive, aggressive mood. It was not helping the child. Some amateur internet users have used their brilliant, Youtubing analysis to determine that the gorilla was actually trying to protect the child. This is false according to every professional analysis I’ve heard.

So for those of you who think the gorilla shouldn’t have been shot, what did you want to happen? I want a legitimate answer from somebody on what would have produced a better outcome in that situation.

Are we really so careless with human life these days that the zookeepers should have said, “Welp, you’re a bad mom and you let your child jump down there, he’s going to have to die so the gorilla doesn’t”? Is that your answer to the critical situation the zookeepers were faced with?

According to other expert analysis, tranquilizing an animal of that size would have taken several minutes to fully sedate him. If an animal that large is dragging my child around like a rag doll and acting pissed off, the last thing I would want or expect somebody to do is to hit it with something that would scare and/or annoy it.

And I know many of you wouldn’t give a straight answer because your answer is, “This never should have happened in the first place if the mother wasn’t so careless!”

I agree that it should absolutely not have even happened, but if you’re willing to equate the gorilla’s life with the toddler’s, why doesn’t the gorilla share responsibility for the situation? This exact same situation happened at a zoo over a decade ago and the gorilla actually cuddled the child, carried it to the door and saved it’s life by giving him to the zookeepers. The very fact that the two gorilla’s behaved in two very different ways proves the point everybody else is trying to make: gorillas are wild animals. They are not humans. They do not have the capability to logically or emotionally think out a situation. They act on instinct, and that is precisely why we must always choose human life over animal life.

Let me make something clear. I love animals. I hate cruelty to animals. I hate when animals die senseless deaths and I hate when they are not admired. Believe what you want about zoos, but I think they are great, as long as the animals are properly taken care of. I believe that God created animals as a resource for us to use, admire and offer companionship. Many zoos are the very reason some species of animals haven’t completely gone extinct. This gorilla in particular was endangered and was sent to the zoo to breed and create more. Animal professionals such as Jack Hanna praise zoos for their work to preserve animals and provide an environment for them to be appreciated. Zoos are not the bad guys.

Secondly, human life is ALWAYS more important than animal life. I must admit, humans do incredibly stupid things with nature sometimes, and even I have considered it justification when people mess with things they shouldn’t and get hurt. But as somebody who believes in a God that created each one of us, not one single human life should go to waste, and when it does, it is a tragedy.

The truth is, death is not what upsets you. If that were the case, wouldn’t you be satisfied with the fact that animals are kept in zoos, away from their natural predators?125046333_7123c38e73

Why doesn’t this picture above outrage you? This happens thousands of times a day all over the world simply because a lion is hungry. I bet this was a lot more painful for this guy than it was for the gorilla at the zoo to get shot.

Death isn’t what upsets people. Animals die every day. Many are senseless and go completely unheard of. People also die every day. After a nationally covered shooting, we act like we’re all so upset over the tragedy that more lives were taken because of “senseless gun violence”. But where are those voices when people are killing each other in the streets of Chicago daily? Where are these voices for the millions of children killed before they even leave their mother’s womb? Even if you’re pro-choice, many abortions have been performed late-term or even post-delivery throughout history. Where is your activism there?

Why are we able to spark a national debate every time 5 people die in a shooting somewhere or a single gorilla is shot so a little boy’s life could be sparred, but we so easily accept the reality that heart disease killed over 130,000 people last year? And better yet, in a society that preaches obesity isn’t a disease, but a statement of pride and high self-esteem.

In reality, we chase these stories because they give us fuel. They give us an arena to unleash the pure hatred we have developed for each other, totally unrelated to the actual issue.

You’re not mad that a gorilla died. You’re acting mad because this story gives you an excuse to call somebody a careless mother, call for her to be arrested and burned at the stake and for zoos to be shut down because you’ve fooled yourself into thinking you’re a good person that’s looking out for the animals.

On the other side, you’re not mad that people are trying to equate human life to animal life. You’re acting mad so you can stick it to the animal-loving hippies who

How about we stop looking out for gorillas, small percentages and one political side or the other, and we start looking out for each other? If you’re legitimately upset about the loss of life, I hope you’re just as outraged about every other life lost. I expect to not see any comment from you on this issue, because frankly, there’s been much more life lost since the gorilla was shot and I would imagine you’re busy fighting for those lives. Not sitting behind your digital bunker throwing caps lock grenades at people you’ve never even met.

This weekend was Memorial Day. That day is set aside so that we may remember and memorialize those who suffered, hurt and died so that we can sit around and argue about gorillas and bathrooms.

Let’s remember those lives first. Because I’ve never seen a gorilla suit up, leave his family behind to head to a foreign land and fight for his life, literally, against an evil force that put the world in jeopardy.

Bottoms up.

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