For those who haven’t heard about the gorilla named Harambe that was shot ten minutes after a toddler fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo around 4 pm on Saturday, May 28, 2016, here is as good a source as any: Gorilla killed after 4-year-old falls into zoo enclosure. Apparently, authorities had both a tranquilizer gun and a rifle at their disposal, and chose the rifle to fatally shoot the gorilla even though the boy hadn’t yet been seriously injured because they were afraid that the tranquilizer wouldn’t act fast enough. They didn’t have to make that call. Here’s a better way.
- Take both the tranquilizer and the rifle. The same person should not operate both.
- Have other staff members make themselves immediately ready to rescue the child.
- When both weapons are ready, shoot the gorilla with the tranquilizer.
- Have the person with the rifle continuously evaluate the threat posed by the gorilla. If bodily harm from the gorilla is not immediately forthcoming, do not shoot.
- If the parents get hysterical while you are evaluating the situation and behave in such a way as to adversely affect the behavior of the gorilla or the judgement of the zoo staff, shoot the parents. (So as not to make the same mistake as the Cincinnati Zoo staff did Saturday, I guess I should mention that you could use the tranquilizer gun for this if you had the forethought to bring the correct dose – even though at this point it wouldn’t be my weapon of choice. If you don’t have the correct dose, just pray that the staff isn’t acting under the same level of panic or incompetence as they exhibited with Harambe.)
- Rescue the child as soon as practicable.
Although (admittedly based on limited information) I did not think the boy was in danger, and not all witnesses in Cincinnati felt the dangerA, those opinions don’t matter to the success of this plan. Since using the tranquilizer doesn’t prevent the use of the rifle, this plan could not have turned out worse for the child than the plan executed, and most likely would have turned out much better for all concerned. The zoo simply threw away options prematurely based solely on their worse fears instead of facts – that sounds like panic to me, and it sounds very unprofessional. If you feel differently, feel free to comment. If you see a reason that this plan would not work, feel free to comment.
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