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Silverback Mountain Gorilla, Democratic Republic of Congo

Source: by Marc Guitard / Getty

An endangered gorilla was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 4-year-old toddler fell into his enclosure, NBC reports.

A mother’s cries can be heard in the video screaming, “Please protect him God! Please protect him!”

Many wonder, where was his mother? Reports say the toddler’s mother was watching many other children, when her son slipped away into the watery moat.

Cincinnati Fire Department Chief Marc Monahan wrote in a statement the gorilla was “violently dragging and throwing the child.”

Seeing imminent danger, the Cincinnati Zoo employee shot the gorilla with a long rifle. Cincinnati Zoo staff opted not to use tranquilizers, explaining the drugs would’ve taken too long to go into effect, leaving the child in imminent danger.

The silverback gorilla, named Harambe, recently celebrated his 17th birthday weighing in at 400 pounds.

Cincinnati Zoo Director, Thayne Maynard, said in a statement,  “The zoo’s in the business of taking care of endangered animals, and we don’t want to be in the situation in which they have to be killed. But all sorts of things could happen in a situation like that. He also defended the move saying, “the right choice was made.”

Although Maynard claims the move saved the boys life, critics and social media alike are questioning the decision.

Memes and tweets lit up the Internet, defending Harambe’s right to live. Some used hashtag #JusticeForHarambe to show their support:

Other mourners launched a petition, calling for the boy’s parents to be charged with negligence, which ultimately led to Harambe’s death:

Do you think the right decision was made?

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