Michelle Gregg will not face criminal charges after her 3-year-old son climbed over a barrier at the Cincinnati Zoo on May 28. He fell into the gorilla enclosure, which resulted in the death of Harambe, a 450-pound gorilla.
"This could happen to even the most attentive parent," Hamilton County, Ohio, prosecuting attorney Joseph Deters said Monday, according to ABC News. "None of the witnesses interviewed described the [boy's] mother as anything but attentive to her children. Our information is that the mother turned away for a few seconds to attend to another one of her young children, and that is when the 3-year-old was able to climb into the gorilla enclosure."
The attorney continued: "I am very sorry about the loss of this gorilla, but nothing about this situation rises to the level of a criminal charge."
Deters said, "Kids can scamper off, and they do.” If Gregg, 32, was "in the bathroom smoking crack, that would have been a different story, but that's not what happened."
National outrage sparked after Harambe, a 17-year-old silverback gorilla, was killed. People debated about whether Harambe should have been shot and who was to blame for his death.
After the boy fell into the enclosure, Harambe grabbed him, dragging him across the moat of his habitat. “I don't know how he wasn't hurt," Deters said. The child escaped with minor scrapes and bruises.
The prosecutor supported the zoo’s “painful” choice. He said Harambe was a beautiful animal, "but it's still an animal. It does not equate to human life."
The family said they were "very pleased with this decision.” They added: “This is one more step in allowing us to put this tragic episode behind us and return to our normal family life.”
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