An accident at the Cincinnati Zoo that lead to the death of an endangered gorilla has outraged animal lovers everywhere.
Michelle Gregg, a mother of four, visited the Cincinnati Zoo with her kids over the holiday weekend when her 3-year-old son managed to climb over a fence and crawl into the zoo’s Gorilla World exhibit. The child fell an estimated 10 to 12 feet and landed in the moat surrounding the habitat, Cincinnati.com reports.
Video of the frightening incident went viral, as a 450-pound gorilla named Harambe could be seen dragging the little boy throughout the enclosure like a rag doll. Gregg can be heard on the the video frantically calling to her child, “Mommy’s right here” and “Mommy loves you.”
To save the child’s life, zoo officials ultimately decided to shoot the 17-year-old male gorilla.
“The Zoo security team’s quick response saved the child’s life,” Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard said in a statement. “We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically-endangered gorilla. This is a huge loss for the Zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.”
On Tuesday, an animal rights activist group announced its plans to file a a federal negligence complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against the zoo, Reuters reports. The group is seeking the maximum fine of $10,000 for the death of Harambe.
Gregg broke her silence Sunday in a now deleted Facebook post, thanking zoo officials for making the split second decision to shoot the gorilla and save her young son.
Critics weren’t going to let her off the hook that easy, though.
Since the horrific incident at the zoo, petitions and Facebook pages calling for Gregg to be held responsible for Harambe’s death have been created, Heavy.com reports. Critics also blasted Gregg’s parenting skills, suggesting she be investigated for child negligence. According to the news site, a “Justice for Harambe” Facebook page appeared Sunday while a Change.org petition pushing for the mother of four to be held liable has already garnered over 168,000 signatures.
Gregg was also bombarded with hateful messages from animal lovers and critics via social media.
Free the gorillas. Put the mom behind bars.#cincinnatizoo #michellegregg #Harambe
— Christian Unruh (@whereisunruh) May 31, 2016
Remember when Michelle Gregg was an irresponsible douchebag but now she's a "victim" of racial insensitivity?
— Luca Brasi (@sportsandcraft) May 31, 2016
In addition to verbal attacks on social media, news sources felt the need to cite the criminal history of Gregg’s husband. In an article published Monday, The Daily Mail dug up Deonne Dickerson’s criminal past, revealing that the father of four had been charged with crimes such as burglary, firearms offenses, drug trafficking, criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct and kidnapping,
The hosts of Fox and Friends discussed the Daily Mail’s report during Tuesday’s show and questioned whether to place the blame on Dickerson’s criminal past or simply view the incident as a tragic accident.
“Some say the parents need to be charged,” co-host Ainsley Earhardt told wildlife expert Grant Kemmerer, “bringing up the dad’s past criminal history who wasn’t even there at the zoo at the time.”
Gregg’s supporters came to her defense and blasted the news site’s irrelevant probe into Dickerson’s criminal past.
@DailyMail really???? What does the father's past have to do with this? SO IRRELEVANT
— Lakisha Jackson (@LakishaJackson) May 31, 2016
@DailyMail Did you dig up Walter Palmers past? Oh I forgot … He's white. You guys need to do better! Absolute shitheads
— Desola (@DanityDoll) May 31, 2016
@DailyMail gossip rag!! you should be embarrassed! Daily Mail Enquirer. Its not journalism, digging up trash for a few extra bucks #gross
— Mary Anne Head (@CAKED_INK) May 31, 2016
According to Heavy.com, Cincinnati Police have not charged Gregg, but there’s a possibility that they could indict her.