On Empathy and Gorillas

I keep thinking about this situation with the gorilla and the kid. I can’t let this go. It is seriously sickening me. I can’t stomach the memes. And the people saying that they should have taken their chances and not shot the gorilla. (I’ve talked to more than one zookeeper I know who have said WITHOUT HESITATION that, however sad, the right judgement call was made) And the people saying they should have shot the mom instead of the gorilla. (Seriously. People are saying this.) Yes, maybe it could have been prevented BUT it wasn’t. It happened. And it sucks. I don’t know enough about the logistics of the gorilla fencing or whatever to make a judgement call as to whether the kid “should” have been able to get over it. Or if the parents “should” have been paying closer attention. But put yourself in those parents shoes, I know I have. Say T is nursing and starts to fuss and I tell M to “stay right here and hold onto the stroller.” He sees something exciting and wanders off before I notice and then I can’t find him because it’s crowded. I’m frantically searching for him in the crowded immediate area. Then somehow 5 minutes have passed and I look over and he’s in the hands of a gorilla. I can’t even imagine that feeling and I wouldn’t ever forgive myself thinking about what could have happened. I can’t then imagine masses of people I don’t know calling me a “bitch” or an “inadequate parent” or telling me that the zoo should have taken their chances and waited to see if a however-many-hundred pound primate crushed my child to death. Are zoos totally safe? Nope. Is anywhere?! But they are family friendly and should be safe enough that a 4 year old can’t get into the gorilla enclosure. I don’t think this is the zoos “fault” I also don’t think that this is the parents “fault”. It was a child who got into a very unfortunate situation resulting in the life of a beautiful animal being taken. Yes, I’m a die hard animal lover, but THE SAFETY OF A CHILD TAKES PRECEDENT OVER THE SAFETY OF AN ANIMAL EVERY DAY. 100%. Without question. Every. Freaking. Time. I’m totally appalled by the way human beings are being completely insensitive to the value of a human child’s life in this situation. The real danger in all of this is people thinking it would “never happen to them”. I think the reality is that everyone knows something like this could happen to them because kids are curious and fast and life is busy and distracting and parenting is FREAKING HARD. We can’t deal with the fact that situations like this sometimes happen and are out of our control, so instead of recognizing it as an accident, we start to say things like “the parent must be negligent” because it makes us feel better. It makes us feel more in-control and safe when being presented with a situation that is impossible and heartbreaking. It could have been me or you or my kid or yours, whether you want to admit it or not. So I’m not saying we don’t get mad about the Gorilla having to die, but I am saying that we do try to show a little empathy for the very real just-like-you-and-me human beings involved in this whole situation. And if your anger about the Gorilla so outweighs your empathy for fellow human kind, maybe at least just try to not perpetuate the pure, blind hatred being spewed at a family who will have to deal with the mental trauma and guilt from this whole ordeal for the rest of their lives. Also, don’t get me started about the fact that all of this insane bashing is being directed towards the mother when the father was supposedly there too…

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