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Mom Of 4-Year-Old Who Climbed Into Gorilla Exhibit Speaks Out Against Critics

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The Internet has no love for the mother of the 4-year-old boy whose unchaperoned descent into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden on Saturday led to the death of resident gorilla Harambe.

Zoo employees decided to shoot the 450-pound male ape to save the young boy from what they perceived to be a life-threatening situation.

Since the death of 17-year-old Harambe, social media users have expressed a keen disapproval of the boy's mother, Michelle Gregg, namely for her alleged inability to properly monitor her child.

In a since-deleted post on Facebook, Gregg addressed critics' concerns.

She wrote,

As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.

The Cincinnati Zoo released a statement Sunday afternoon defending the staff's decision to lethally intervene.

Zoo Director Thane Maynard said,

We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child's life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team… Tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option. Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger… We're glad to hear that the child is going to be okay. We're touched by the outpouring of support from the community and our members who loved Harambe.

The barrier that's separated zoo guests from the gorillas for the past 38 years may no longer be enough to keep younger visitors safe, though Maynor insisted customer safety is the establishment's “#1 priority,” insinuating alterations may be up for consideration.

He added,

We will study this incident as we work toward continuous improvement for the safety of our visitors and animals.

In the meantime, Gregg's son is reportedly hospitalized, recovering from a concussion and minor scrapes.

Citations: Mom Of Boy Who Fell Into Gorilla Enclosure Defends Herself Against Critics: 'I Keep a Tight Watch on My Kids' (Us Weekly)