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Gorillas

Rants Can someone tell me the last recorded human death caused by a gorilla? Someone....someone....? No, I thought not. All those David Attenborough wildlife programmes with gorillas, how many times has a silverback shown actual physical violence even to another gorilla? A lot of posing and bluster but have any serious blows been delivered? I once heard that if faced with an angry gorilla you should back away slowly and gracefully as turning and running could well result in you being chased and receiving a hefty thump in the back. Chimps, ok, I accept that chimps are aggressive and dangerous, rather like humans really, but gorillas?

If Cincinnati was in Europe, New Zealand, Japan, in fact almost any civilised country rather than in the USA, would the gun have been the method of first resort in rescuing the little brat who trespassed on Harambe's territory? The experts say that a tranquiliser dart wasn't an option as the gorilla 'may' have reacted badly to it. 'May' have indeed but you don't know until you have tried and the gun would have remained a pretty instantaneous way to sort things out if the poor chap had taken exception to being darted. Not even a warning shot.

But were any other approaches considered or is our imagination restricted to the use of firearms? It is interesting to watch the similar incident from 30 years ago at the Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey where everything was very calm and Jambo the gorilla was clearly protecting the injured boy. In this week's case Harambe showed concern but looked undecided as to what he should do but clearly lacked the evil Goldfinger leer one associates with those considering dismemberment.

One has to accept that the gentle giant would have had no trouble in despatching the brat had he wished but surely he deserved more of a chance than he was given. I didn't notice the keepers popping into the enclosure to divert his attention or have a man-to-man chat to reason with him. Maybe he could have been distracted with a bubble machine or an impromptu performance of the death scene from Camille. Anything but the gun. But if the gun was the correct approach surely they hit the wrong target.

Lots of questions to be asked here. Many people argue that zoos have no place in the modern world and that animals should be allowed to live in their own protected habitat. Sounds like a reasonable argument until you look at all the other animals desperately trying to cling onto life in their protected natural habitats, like the rhinos and elephants in Africa and orang-utans in Asia. Fat lot of use the protection is there. Unfortunately money will always come first so if it is a choice between protecting an animal's habitat or protecting the lifestyle and wealth of human beings the habitat is always going to come second, just as the choice between the life of a magnificent, gentle endangered silverback comes second to a child of which there is no shortage. I know which I'd rather have in my house.

No one seems to have thought of sending a message of condolence or apology to the family of the bereaved. I can only hope that the negligent mother and wandering child may one day be repentant enough to make a genuine contribution to protecting what is left of the world's dwindling population of wonderful gorillas. As for the zoo, they really need to have serious look at their responsibilities. The only party that appears to have done nothing wrong is Harambe. He must be wondering how he could have handled things differently to have achieved a better outcome.