Open Letter to the Mom whose Kid Fell into the Gorilla Exhibit

To the mom whose kid fell into the gorilla exhibit,

I admit it: I mommy-shamed you. My first thought at hearing an endangered animal had been killed due to a child entering his enclosure, was to think that the parent – you, had been irresponsible. Then I heard you went to the zoo with 4 other children (5 in total), and I shamed you again. I further read that you worked at a day-care, and I questioned who would trust you to look after their kids?

So yes, I admit it: I shamed you. I sat behind my keyboard and screen and let the anger flowing within me come out the only way I knew how.

So today, when the social media universe has (somewhat) calmed, and pictures of the majestic Harambe is not flooding my feed as much as it was yesterday, I sit down to think about why I was so angry.


I have always been an animal lover. I don’t eat meat, although this is not the standard by which an animal lover is measured. I am vocal against soulless trophy hunters who carry out atrocities in the name of sport. I stand up against dog fighting rings by signing petitions for harsher sentences for perpetrators of this heinous crime. I donate to charities that are actually doing something about the rapidly dwindling numbers of rhinos on our planet. I stand outside circuses and protest the use of elephants and lions for entertainment. I write challenging letters to laboratories that carry out terrible experiments on monkeys and beagles.  It’s not nearly enough, but I try to do what I can to ensure the animals entrusted to us on this earth are treated with dignity.

I wanted a scapegoat. And you made an easy target.

So when I heard that Harambe received a bullet to his head, and your son was sent home with a mild concussion and a few bruises, I lost it. I wanted someone to blame. I wanted a scapegoat. And you made an easy target.

But now that my anger is in check, I will admit I was wrong to shame you. In the realm of parenting, there isn’t a single one of us without sin. You made a lapse in judgement, a terrible mistake even, but you do not need to be crucified for that. I know I have made plenty mistakes of my own.

I heard about a toddler in my neighbourhood who drowned in his family pool a few weeks ago. His mom was meters away. The 2 year old just slipped away for a second, and now his distraught mother will live with that guilt for the rest of her life.

I am SO glad that you will not have to live a life of guilt without your son. I assure you, I was never one of those ‘activists’ saying “the kid should have died”. Even when my anger was at its peak, I realised the zoo officials had done what they felt was right.  I am heartbroken that a magnificent gorilla is dead, and that hopes for his species’ survival dwindles even further.

But I know that Harambe’s fate was sealed the moment your little boy entered that enclosure. They executed him for fear he may have harmed your son. And had he actually hurt/killed your boy, he would have been euthanized anyway. It was a horrible, no-win situation.

I will never claim to have the privilege to deem one life more important than another, be it animal or human. All I know is, if that was my child in there, I would have pulled the trigger myself. Because while I love animals deeply and passionately, there isn’t a single animal life I value over my child’s. Come to think of it, there isn’t a human life I value over my child’s either.

So, I’m sorry I shamed you. There are a million things you could have done differently…and I am sure you play them over and over in your head daily since the incident. I can only hope you learn the various lessons to be learnt from this ordeal. I know that it has taught me many lessons myself:

–          I have learned toddlers are sneaky little beasts, who are prone to doing precisely the opposite of what they’re told to do (or NOT to do).

–          I have learned that I need my village. And the next time I think of going anywhere that may be potentially hazardous, I will take along Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Patti, neighbour Sue and her cousin too. All hands on deck.

–          I’ve learned that accidents happen in the blink of an eye, so I will do my utmost best to pay attention at all times. I will try to stay off my phone and live in the moment.

–          I’ve learned that hindsight makes everyone an expert, so while I read about these tragedies around me, I’ll strive to be better and do better with my own kids.

And finally, I now place the blame where it should have been all along: on the people who think that animals in captivity, for the entertainment of others is acceptable. On Zoos and Seaworlds. On circuses and petting parks.

#EmptyTheTanks #EmptyTheCages #BoycottAnimalCircuses #RIPHarambe


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5 thoughts on “Open Letter to the Mom whose Kid Fell into the Gorilla Exhibit”

  1. It’s so hard to not shoot blame to the mom. However there is so much controversy with this darn story already. Accidents happen and people aren’t perfect. You stated this perfectly in your blog. Can’t beleive where people are taking this.

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