It astonishes me how much energy is being put into the zoo incident, so...I decided to put some energy into myself:
First, if the life choice is between gorilla and child, I choose child. It sucks on so many levels that the choice had to be made and if it were my 4 year old daughter the choice would be straightforward.
Years ago I was matter of fact that I would shoot a poacher… Until I went to Africa and saw the abject poverty children live in and the choice between the starving child and a dead elephant is not so simple.
Second, it’s hasty to crucify the mother for negligence OR absolve her for making an understandable mistake. We’ll never get it, but we need the real account from the mom of what happened.
If there was sustained perhaps irresponsible inattentiveness to her son, it would require incredible courage to admit it and the attacks would be even more relentless. Admittedly, I was and to a certain extent still am (without the whole story) in the camp of the inattentive camp.
And I'm not sure I would have the inner strength to admit it, particularly given that I don't think she owes any of us an explanation (even if it turned out to be a cautionary tale for parents that would help).
Third, I think it’s a great sign that so many of us care about the lives of animals. Even given my choice above, I am sad that this gorilla is dead.
Fourth, I loved the zoo growing up and I have mixed feelings best about them now. As a kid, seeing a live gorilla was an eye widening experience that was a big part of how I’ve become empathetic to animals.
However having seen lions, elephants, monkeys in the wild and now seeing them stripped of their natural instincts at a minimum it’s difficult to justify the educational benefit (much less the teasing and entertainment aspect of their presence).
How do we teach our children that animals other than cats and dogs aren’t just pictures and videos?
I realize patience and the level of courage I'm asking for to get the full story isn't possible and it would be nice.