Harambe’s caregiver at GPZ speaks about the gorilla’s death

Local News

You’ve heard about Harambe, the gorilla that was killed in the Cincinnati Zoo after a child fell into its enclosure.

Harambe was born and raised in our valley’s own Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.

Monday night, the Gladys Porter Zoo opened their doors to share more about Harambe’s life before the tragedy.

“Unforeseen circumstances oftentimes show up and there’s nothing you can do about them. Not a thing. And he was caught in one of those,” says Facilities Director and Harambe’s caregiver at GPZ, Jerry Stones.

The Gladys Porter Zoo community is mourning the loss of Harambe.

The 17 year old silverback died at the hands of Cincinnati Zookeepers who say shooting him with a rifle was the only choice to make after a four year old child managed to get past a rail, wires, brush and fall 15 feet down into a moat.

“That mother and father had to be petrified, they had to be scared to death, the public around him had to be mortified, everybody’s at total loss because my god, they didn’t know who he was this beast had this baby. The zoo people had to make a decision where there is no god-almighty how to you win?” says Stones.

Harambe had been sent to the Cincinnati Zoo back in September of 2014 as part of a western lowland gorilla species survival plan.

But before then, the Gladys Porter Zoo had been his one and only home.

Born on May 27th 1999, Harambe was hand-raised by Gladys Porter Zoo staff. Bottle-fed, diaper changed, and even tucked in bed by caregiver Jerry Stones.

“If you walked by him and he had to stick you’d better watch it cause he’d poke you with the stick,” says Stones. “Harambe, from the day he was born, he grew up and he showed very very good tendencies towards being a leader, not agressive, just a presence about him that showed that he was the big guy I’m the leader.

Not Stones nor anyone can figure out what Harambe’s intentions towards the child were. But the potential consequences from a more than 400 pound gorilla could have been deadly.

“There’s no way i would have run out there and play with him, because you can’t win. He’s not angry, he’s playing but they play a lot tougher,” says Stones.

Fortunately, the child is recovering well at home, with only minor external injuries… Still, a tragedy and loss for the Gladys Porter Zoo

“He was just a beautiful beautiful creature,” says Stones.

A very emotional night for the Gladys Porter Zoo staff and in order to cope with the Harambe’s death they have decided to set up a fund in his name. The zookeeper who raised him himself has decided to donate a thousand dollars. If you’d like to help other lowland gorillas you can give at harambe@gpz.org.

The city of Brownsville commissioners have also decided tonight to come together to fund-raise in Harambe’s name.

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