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  1. ITV Report

Harambe the gorilla seemed to be protecting child, says Lee Durrell

The director of Jersey's wildlife park has told ITV News Harambe the gorilla, who was shot in America, appeared to be protecting the young boy who entered his enclosure.

Similarities have been drawn between the incident at Cincinnati zoo and the drama that unfolded when a young boy fell into Durrell's gorilla enclosure, 30 years ago.

Keepers at Durrell in 1986 managed to get the child out safely, after successfully encouraging Jambo the silverback to move away from the boy.

ITV Channel Television's report on Jambo the gorilla in 1986

On Saturday, 17-year-old gorilla Harambe was shot and killed by zookeepers in America after a four-year-old boy crawled through a barrier and into the enclosure.

Footage taken at Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday

Speaking about the video captured at the Ohio zoo, Lee Durrell said the ape was showing typical protective behaviour.

It looked to me that the animal was protecting the boy [...] he was clearly very tense and then when he dragged the child through the moat, that's kind of what gorillas do with each other [...] it's typical gorilla behaviour.

It looked very violent to us and of course the child could have been hurt at that time but then after that, he did seem to be a lot more protective.

– Lee Durrell

She said that, in hindsight, the keepers did have other options than to shoot the animal, although she pointed out the video only showed part of the story.

I think it is so hard to say, those people were in a very tough situation. In hindsight, it looked like he was being protective. Maybe they should have had a marksman standing by with a gun and tried to [...] dart the animal.

That can be done, it can act very quickly. Then just stand by and see what happened. It's such a tragedy for that animal to have died.

– Lee Durrell

Almost 300,000 people have signed an online petition to hold the toddler's parents responsible for the situation.

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