CINCINNATI – A prosecutor’s office says police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a 4-year-old boy entering a gorilla’s exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo and the animal being shot to death to protect the child.
The Hamilton County prosecutor’s office said Tuesday that police will confer with prosecutors after their investigation is complete. The endangered gorilla was killed Saturday after the boy got into its enclosure. The boy’s family has said he is doing fine at home.
Cincinnati police said over the weekend that no charges were planned. However, spokeswoman Tiffaney Hardey says police are reviewing the matter and continuing to gather information.
Some people have contended there should be child endangering charges against the parents while others want the zoo held responsible.
Earlier, a federal inspector warned the Cincinnati Zoo that the public could have been “at great risk” if two polar bears that escaped a behind-the-scenes holding area in March had gained outside access.
WATCH: Man who trained Harambe the gorilla fights back tears as he discusses his death
Federal reports viewed by The Associated Press also show the zoo’s Gorilla World exhibit was inspected in April, and no violations were found.
On Saturday, the zoo fatally shot an endangered western lowland gorilla to protect a 4-year-old boy who entered its exhibit. An animal protection watchdog group is calling for fines against the zoo.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says it will “be looking into this incident.”
On March 16, some zoo visitors were moved for safety after two polar bears wandered through an open den door into a service hallway.
Watchdog group wants Cincinnati Zoo held responsible
An animal protection watchdog group wants the federal government to hold the Cincinnati Zoo responsible for the death of an endangered western lowland gorilla.
The Cincinnati-based Stop Animal Exploitation NOW says the U.S. Department of Agriculture that inspects zoo facilities should fine the zoo for having an exhibit in which people can gain access to animals. The USDA and Cincinnati Zoo didn’t immediately respond Tuesday morning to requests for comment.
Zoo director Thane Maynard has repeatedly defended the shooting Saturday of the 17-year-old gorilla as necessary to save the 4-year-old who fell into the enclosure. He says the zoo is safe.
The watchdog group’s executive director, Michael Budkie, says the zoo has had past problems. In March, two polar bears wandered through an open den door into a service hallway.
Cincinnati Zoo maintains gorilla attraction
The director of the Cincinnati Zoo says it remains safe for its 1.6 million annual visitors despite a weekend tragedy in which a gorilla was fatally shot to protect a 4-year-old boy who had entered its exhibit.
Thane Maynard, however, said a review is underway to determine any improvements that can make the zoo safer.
The male western lowland gorilla named Harambe was killed Saturday by a special zoo response team that feared for the boy’s safety. Video taken by zoo visitors showed the gorilla at times appeared protective of the boy but also violently dragged him through the shallow moat.
Maynard said the decision to kill the gorilla was the right one. He said the gorilla was agitated and disoriented by the commotion after the boy fell.
VIDEO: Jack Hanna calls decision to shoot, kill gorilla the only choice Cincinnati Zoo had