1. ITV Report

'Accidents happen' says mum whose son entered gorilla's cage as she hits back at critics

Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla pictured at the Cincinnati Zoo. Credit: Reuters

The mother of the four-year-old who entered a gorilla's cage on Sunday has apparently hit back at furious criticism over the incident with an online post saying "accidents happen".

Zoo officials shot dead Harambe, an endangered silverback gorilla, over fears that he could harm the child, who had crawled into the cage in Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio.

The animal's death sparked sparked public outrage with thousands of people calling for "justice" for the animal and blaming the boy's mother for the "lack of supervision" of her child.

Now Michelle Gregg, the boy's mother, has apparently broken her silence with a post saying that people are "too quick to judge".

The message posted on a Facebook page backing the family Credit: Facebook

The message was shared on a Facebook page called I support Michelle Gregg.

As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.

– Michelle Gregg

A petition entitled 'Justice for Harambe' and a Facebook page of the same name, both call for the boy's parents to be held responsible for the death of the gorilla which online critics are blaming on "the lack of supervision" of the child.

The petition already has more than 53,000 signatures. Credit:

The petition reads: "This beautiful gorilla lost his life because the boy's parents did not keep a closer watch on the child.

"We the undersigned believe that the child would not have been able to enter the enclosure under proper parental supervision."

More than 125,000 hyad signed it by Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile the director of Cincinnati Zoo said they were right to shoot the gorilla after releasing video showing the gorilla sweeping the boy from his feet and dragging him through water.

Looking back, we would make the same decision. The gorilla was clearly agitated. The gorilla was clearly disoriented.

– Thayne Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo

Zoo officials said that they took the decision to shoot Harambe after he refused calls to leave the cage, adding they feared that the 400-pound animal might have seriously harmed the boy.

They said that he could not have been tranquilized as the anesthetic would not have taken affect instantly, leaving the boy at risk in the meantime