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Ohio zoo kills gorilla after 4-year-old falls in enclosure

Witness captured video of Gorilla grabbing and dragging around child at Cincinnati Zoo
WATCH ABOVE: Witness captured video of Gorilla grabbing and dragging around child at Cincinnati Zoo.

CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Zoo has temporarily closed its gorilla exhibit after a special zoo response team shot and killed a 17-year-old gorilla that grabbed and dragged a 4-year-old boy who fell into a moat.

Zoo officials said the boy fell after he climbed through a public barrier at the Gorilla World exhibit Saturday afternoon. He was picked up out of the moat and dragged by the gorilla for about 10 minutes.

READ MORE: Mother accused of dangling son over cheetah pit at zoo charged

Authorities said the child, who has not been identified, fell 10 to 12 feet. He was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he is expected to recover. Hospital officials said they couldn’t release any information on him.

WATCH: 4-year-old falls into gorilla exhibit at zoo, animal killed to save boy. Aarti Pole reports.

4-year-old falls into gorilla exhibit at zoo, animal killed to save boy
4-year-old falls into gorilla exhibit at zoo, animal killed to save boy

Zoo 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 400-pound-plus male gorilla named Harambe.

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

WATCH: Jack Hanna defends Cincinnati Zoo’s decision to shoot, kill gorilla

Jack Hanna calls decision to shoot, kill gorilla the only choice Cincinnati Zoo had
Jack Hanna calls decision to shoot, kill gorilla the only choice Cincinnati Zoo had

But he mourned the loss of the gorilla, which came to Cincinnati in 2015 from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.

READ MORE: 5 cheetah cubs born in rare C-section procedure at Cincinnati Zoo

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.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to show that the boy who fell into the gorilla exhibit was 4 years old, not 3 years old.