Zoo builds larger barrier at Gorilla World

Zoo builds larger barrier at Gorilla World
Posted at 12:18 PM, Jun 02, 2016

CINCINNATI – Under fire for the death of an endangered gorilla, the Cincinnati Zoo says it has raised and modified the barrier at Gorilla World and will reopen the exhibit Tuesday, June 7. 

The new barrier is 42 inches high with wood beams top and bottom and knotted rope netting, the zoo announced Thursday.

"Our exhibit goes above and beyond standard safety requirements, but in light of what happened, we have modified the outer public barrier to make entry even more difficult,” zoo director Thane Maynard said in a release.

The zoo has been the target of outrage from around the world after a 3-year-old boy slipped through the old barrier Saturday and fell into the moat at the gorilla enclosure. A 17-year-old silverback named Harambe grabbed the boy and dragged him through the water in the moat.

Fearing for the boy's safety, zoo officials ordered its Dangerous Animal Response Team to shoot and kill Harambe.

WATCH Harambe and the boy in the video below:


The zoo said that was the first breach at Gorilla World since it opened in 1978. The zoo said it has spent the last several days reevaluating the exhibit. 

The previous barrier passed multiple inspections by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and adhered to safety guidelines, the zoo said in a release.

Cincinnati police investigated Saturday's incident to determine if criminal charges are warranted against the boy's mother for not preventing him from slipping through the barrier. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters is expected to announce a decision Friday, his office said.

Thousands of people have taken to social media to condemn the shooting. Many blame the boy's mother for letting him out of her sight and fault the zoo's security for not keeping a 3-year-old out of the gorilla enclosure. Some said the zoo should have tranquilized Harambe instead.

More than 183,000 people have signed a petition to create a law to hold zoo visitors responsible for the well-being of endangered zoo animals.

Another petition blaming the child's parents for neglect and calling for them to be investigated has drawn more than 476,000 supporters.