Jack Hanna: Cincinnati Zoo incident was a "no-win situation"

Jack Hanna (WSYX/WTTE)

Jack Hanna said Cincinnati Zoo staff members made the "incredible right decision" when they shot and killed a gorilla, after the animal dragged a boy in its habitat.

"My heart aches for the gorilla, it really does, as well as for the family that allowed this," Hanna said. "No one loves gorillas more than me."

A bystander recorded cell phone video of the silverback gorilla picking up a four-year-old boy on Saturday after the child got through a barrier and fell 15 feet into a moat.

Hanna said the gorilla appeared to be upset, and the animal's instinct would be to protect his family. He said a tranquilizer takes five to 10 minutes to work, and the gorilla's reaction could've easily hurt or killed the child.

"We have to value the life of humans, as well," Hanna said. "It's a terrible decision, but it had to happen. The gorilla was going to do something. I guarantee it, and you wouldn't want to sit there and watch that, would you?"

Hanna said zoo safety wasn't an issue, comparing entering a habitat to entering a racetrack during a race.

"Where do you stop with protection? Where do you stop at the Indy 500? At football game? A baseball game?" Hanna asked. "We've done everything we can. We have netting. We have high fences. We as parents always have a responsibility, we know, for our children."

Hanna added he wasn't criticizing the mother in this case because he didn't know the details of her actions.

Witness Kim O'Connor said she heard the boy telling his mom he wanted to go in the water with the gorillas.

The child's family hasn't been identified, but released a statement Sunday, thanking the zoo staff for their quick response.

Staff members said they believed the boy's life was in danger when the 17-year-old gorilla Harambe grabbed hold of him.

The family says they know that it was a difficult decision for the zoo to shoot the animal, which is endangered.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off