Video: Shocking moment gorilla grabs boy who fell into enclosure

The 17-year-old male gorilla named Harambe stands over the boy. Picture: Youtube

The 17-year-old male gorilla named Harambe stands over the boy. Picture: Youtube

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A zoo response team has been forced to shoot and kill a gorilla after it grabbed a four-year-old boy who fell into an exhibit moat at a US zoo.

The authorities said the youngster who fell 10 to 12 feet at Cincinnati Zoo, is expected to recover after being picked up out of the moat and dragged by the gorilla for about 10 minutes.

He was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre.

Director Thane Maynard said the zoo’s dangerous animal response team decided the boy was in “a life-threatening situation” and that they needed to put down the 17-year-old 400-pound-plus male gorilla named Harambe.

“They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy’s life,” he said. “It could have been very bad.”

He said he had not yet talked to the boy’s parents yet.

They are still investigating, but zoo officials believe the boy crawled through a railing barrier, then fell into the moat.

Mr Maynard said the gorilla did not appear to be attacking the child, but that it was “an extremely strong” animal in an agitated situation.

He said tranquillising the gorilla would not have knocked it out immediately, leaving the boy in danger.

Mr Maynard said it was the first time that the team had killed a zoo animal in such an emergency situation, and he called it “a very sad day” at the zoo. The lowland gorilla is an endangered species.

The incident was reported at around 4pm local time on Saturday, and the area around the gorilla exhibit was closed off after zoo visitors reported hearing screaming.

Harambe came to Cincinnati last year from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.

Mr Maynard said Cincinnati’s Gorilla World area would be open as usual on Sunday, and zoo officials believe the exhibit remains safe.

They are still investigating, but zoo officials believe the boy crawled through a railing barrier, then fell into the moat.

The zoo prides itself for its work in protecting endangered species, and has been part of successful captive breeding efforts in recent years in the effort to save the endangered Sumatran rhino.

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