Dear Internet, The Kid Lived.    P.S. Simmer Down. 

This is everything right now to a lot of people.  Why?  I’m not sure exactly.  People love a good tragedy, I suppose, and one that involves children AND animals AND guns AND zoos is a jackpot for internet trolls. If only a celebrity in a bathing suit was down in that moat, too.

I’d say ‘all jokes aside’ and get all serious, but thankfully this isn’t a ‘too soon?’ situation because the child is alive and well.  I’m not saying what happened is funny, because it’s downright terrifying and sad but at the same time, and most importantly, it’s a tremendous joy that the child survived. The outcome for the gorilla was unfortunate, for sure, but I’d much rather be reading about his death than the child’s. Even if the mom chucked the boy into the exhibit herself, the boy didn’t deserve to die. MAYBE the gorilla wouldn’t have killed the boy. But I wouldn’t play the What-If game with my little human or anyone else’s – even the little boy at daycare I’m convinced is gonna be a serial killer.

When I first gave it a ponder, I figured there was no way someone could get into the Sedgwick County Zoo’s gorilla exhibit, which we frequent, so I thought it was crazy it was even a possibility in Cinci, then picturing the exhibit in my mind again I thought of a way someone could get in. Actually, come to think of it – someone could easily get into the lion exhibit, too. And the elephant exhibit. Hm, and the grizzly bear exhibit. Good Lord. But who would be crazy enough to do it? Someone with a death wish ORRR an adventurous, curious child with literally 5 seconds of time not hooked into a stroller or holding a parent’s hand – the parent might be able to watch it happen, even, but not be quick enough to physically stop it. And I know how well my son pays attention to me when I say “stop” so he’d certainly be gorilla bait. I would be, too, because I’d be in there after him (cue Ron Burgandy – “I IMMEDIATELY REGRET THIS DECISION!” My dog might not speak gorillaese but maybe I’ll start bringing him to the zoo with us in hopes he’d pull a Baxter if the situation ever arose).

Being unable to predict how a wild animal will react to a strange new presence combined with the understandably freaked out spectator reaction, plus the risk of upsetting the gorilla further with a tranquilizer dart or [stupidly] approaching him to try to retrieve the child, the zoo didn’t have any other option in this specific situation.  The decision to use lethal force over a tranquilizer dart was a no-brainer, as experts and [some] trolls are in agreement on this.  If my child was being manhandled and dragged around water, concrete, and rugged terrain by a gorilla, and the person who would be firing the shot said, “We can try to tranquilize the animal or we can shoot it dead.  There is a possibility the tranq will anger and distress the animal and it won’t take effect for several minutes so there’s no predicting what could happen.  The bullet will kill it dead immediately.  How should we proceed?”  my response would be “Bullet between the eyes. Now. Twice.” and I’d be pissed they wasted precious time by asking the question.

Interestingly, it seems people are less furious about the decision to use lethal force against the gorilla and more furious at the mother of the boy who entered the gorilla habitat for causing it to be necessary. So many people are positively fuming over who or what is to blame for this horrible accident.  The zoo?  The mom?  The boy?  The gorilla?  The spectators?  The overwhelming majority seem to be blaming the mom, some even calling for child abuse and neglect charges.  Really?  I’ve heard of a mom leaving her screaming baby in a hot apartment’s closet multiple times while she dropped her boyfriend off at work. And there was another case of a mother and her boyfriend hanging her son upside down and beating him over not eating his vegetables. There are some sick f*cks out there, and the Cinci Zoo mom is not one of them.

My mom lost me at an amusement park once – she, my brother, and I were walking along after exiting a ride and for some probably dumb reason I stopped walking and they didn’t notice me stop and I didn’t notice them not stop. Does that make any of us d*uchebag f*cktards? Nope. Does that make my mom a bad mother? Hell no, we were spending family time together at Six Flags!  Does it make me a self-entitled little sh*t who thinks there are no consequences for my actions? Um, not at all – that doesn’t make sense. Does it mean I wasn’t being supervised? No, I was at my mother’s side for goodness sake. It just takes a perfect storm for things to go down in the blink of an eye – a shifting crowd, a quick child, a breachable barrier, a slight distraction, a split second of confusion.

Luckily I was scared when I realized I was alone and hunkered down crying instead of wandering into a roller coaster restricted area and getting my head knocked off by someone’s legs. Luckily the person who approached me wasn’t of the chi-mo or murderer variety and helped me tearfully reunite with my family. But even if I did suffer a horrible death or got kidnapped, would this be my mother’s fault? Apparently, much of the Internet would say yes and demand her to take full responsibility regardless of whether or not she actually publicly denied fault for the incident in the first place.  I wouldn’t fault my mother – a crowded amusement park, 2 kids…both of whom she thought were by her side as she strolled along checking the park map for the next ride. You know who would fault my mother if something happened to me in those hours-long minutes I was missing? My mother. She would play the moments leading up to realizing I wasn’t next to her and every possible thing she could’ve done differently every minute of every day for the rest of her life. I know this because I know my mother, and I know myself as a mother. I imagine if my little boy was lost, scared, alone, hurt, helpless, in danger…the thought makes my stomach turn and my heart ache. And the thought of him dying is unthinkable. I won’t even allow that thought to fully process. Yet I know I am powerless to shield my child from every ounce of pain and fear that may come his way, and I am unable to fully protect him from the dangers of the world, or even from himself. It’s humbling and frightening as f*ck. 

Some peeps are talking like Cinci Zoo mom is super pissed off, denying responsibility all together, or blaming others for what happened, and I haven’t seen anything showing that’s actually the case. In reality, she’s probably wishing she had made her son sit at home and watch TV all day instead of going to the zoo and eating a big bowl of relief that her kid isn’t dead with a generous helping of gratitude, a side of feeling like a complete sh*thead, and a big glass of sorrow for the death of an innocent animal so she can wash down the handful of Tylenol PM she needs in order to sleep after being traumatized by the Congo-style nightmare of seeing her child thrown around and dragged like a rag doll by an agitated 400-lb gorilla.

The public statements the family has made so far are very compassionate toward the gorilla and the zoo regarding the choice that was and had to be made to save their child, and they’ve also expressed that they will not file charges against the zoo. What else do people want from the mother to put the blame game to rest? Make [another] public statement? Go to prison? Pay for the gorilla? Put on her gorilla-catching pants and swipe another one to replace him? Would her doing these things make any of the witch-hunting trolls feel better?

People are ANGRY – like, Hulk Smash angry – over this whole ordeal, AND THE CHILD IS ALIVE! Social media has worked itself into a stupor over the need for someone to take blame even though no one is denying blame. The parties involved (keyword: involved) successfully worked together to achieve the best possible outcome to a difficult and horrifying situation, and everyone involved (keyword: involved) is in agreement that it was a tragic accident. Besides the gorilla, perhaps, because he’s dead. And maybe the kid because he’s like 4, but some day he’ll understand. Because he’s going to grow up, being not dead and all, and maybe have a great impact in this world. Maybe he’ll be president, or save lives as a doctor or policeman or fireman, or teach our youth as a teacher, or discover an alternative to fossil fuels. Maybe he’ll die tomorrow, because Final Destination. But whatever his destiny, he’s alive to explore it. 
It seems like more than anything, the parties not involved in the tragedy (aka the general public) are not in agreement with each other and THAT’S what is getting everyone’s @sses chapped. People are so incensed that not everyone agrees with their opinions that they’re letting themselves get so worked up they’re spewing insults and hate at one another, and driving themselves insane trying to prove themselves right. And for what?

I’m not the least bit angry about this. I’m not sure I’m even sad about it. It’s a bummer the kid entered the exhibit and fell into the moat and it’s too bad the gorilla had to be killed, but the boy is alive and doing fine. I am an animal lover by nature but if I had to choose between starving to death, cannabalism, or eating a gorilla, well, I’d be dining on Haramburgers.

Respectfully, or at least humorously if disrespectfully, stating your opinions is totally acceptable, but there’s no reason to get upset at total strangers on social media. About anything. Especially when it’s to your own detriment, emotionally or physically.  To quote Captain Murphy in Lethal Weapon 2, “That’s why I don’t have an ulcer, because I know when to say I don’t give a f*ck.”

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