There has been a lot of outrage over the death of 17 year old Harambe, the male silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo who was shot and killed after a four year old boy climbed into the gorilla exhibit.

An online petition blames Harambe’s death on the boy’s mother for neglecting her son. It also calls for a child services investigation into the home life. The petition is quickly approaching half a million signatures.

“This heartbreaking decision was made in the best interests of keeping the child and the public safe. This beautiful gorilla lost his life because the boy’s parents did not keep a closer watch on the child. We the undersigned believe that the child would not have been able to enter the enclosure under proper parental supervision…It is believed that the situation was caused by parental negligence and the zoo is not responsible for the child’s injuries and possible trauma.We the undersigned want the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life.”

The outrage seems to have resonated with local authorities. According to CNN this morning, Cincinnati police are indeed investigating the parents of the boy. If police find charges are warranted, they will discuss their revelations with the Hamilton County prosecutors.

Michelle Gregg, the mother of the boy, initially took to Facebook saying “accidents happen” as the excuse for why her son ended up in the gorilla pen while under her “watchful” eye.  Her excuse alone seems to highlight that she doesn’t have much accountability for her actions.

While I don’t usually agree with animal rights activists, I think the blame here rests on the shoulders of this mother. As parents, we all have those moments when we lose sight of our child for a second, but our children don’t end up in the arms of a gorilla!

Animal expert Jack Hanna has defended the zoo’s decision to shoot the gorilla to save the child, as you can see in the video below. The zoo simply didn’t have any other choice. If the child had been killed, imagine how intense the outrage would be.

The bottom line is that if you have a lot of children and can’t closely watch them all, the zoo is not the place to take those children. It doesn’t matter what the excuse is, the child wasn’t being properly watched. And if the child is defiant, the zoo isn’t the place to take him.

Given the weak excuse of “accidents happen,” many anticipate the parents will sue the zoo for not preventing the child from entering the enclosure. But, the best prevention would have been an attentive mother, especially since witnesses say the boy said he wanted to go into the exhibit in the first place.

What do you think? Should the mother face charges for failing to watch her son? 

H/T: Time