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Harambe the Gorilla, RIP

Wesley J. Smith


I had hoped to avoid comment on the killing of Harambe, a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. But I keep getting asked.

Those who says it is not a close call are correct. However, I think a bit more needs to be written:

  • The Sturm und Drang over the gorilla’s death is a disturbing sign of our emotionally driven times, in which feeling counts so much more than thinking, and many seem to value animal life as highly as — or higher than — they do human life.
  • The life of a child was infinitely more valuable than that of the gorilla.
  • The question of whether the gorilla was “protecting” the child is irrelevant. The boy was in mortal danger, whether or not the gorilla intended harm.
  • Saving human life is paramount, so in light of this mortal danger, I don’t see what other choice could have been made to ensure the child was not injured or killed.
  • Drudge used the word “murder” to describe the killing. He’s angling for clicks (I hope). Only human beings can be “murdered,” which is a particularly heinous act precisely because it involves the death of a human being, not an animal.
  • It is, indeed, very sad that the gorilla had to die because somebody screwed up so terribly, resulting in the child being placed in mortal danger.
  • Only humans would care so much about a killed gorilla, our empathy being one of the aspects of our natures that make us exceptional.
  • There should be an investigation, and if warranted, legal accountability for the outrageous endangering of the child, whether by the parents or the zoo, or both.

Here’s the most disturbing part: I suspect many people are more emotional about the killing of the gorilla than they would have been had the child been killed.

Photo credit: Mind meal [CC BY 2.0], from Wikimedia Commons.
Cross-posted at The Corner.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.