Gorilla outrage turns to death threats

Posted at 9:39 PM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 12:08:39-04

Outrage around the world has risen to death threats over the gorilla shooting at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Tweets like "Shoot the parents, not the gorilla" and "I say we kill the parents for indirectly killing the gorilla" may be too crazy to be real, but police are not dismissing them out of hand.

"Even though they are not direct death threats, we're going to reach out to the mother and let her know what's going on," Cincinnati police spokesperson Lt. Steve Saunders said in a statement.

People around the world are upset that zoo staff shot and killed Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla, after a 3-year-old boy snuck into the gorilla enclosure on Saturday. Because the gorilla grabbed the boy, zoo director Thane Maynard said they had no choice but to put the gorilla down for the boy's safety.

With so many people blaming the boy's mother for not preventing him from slipping past the barrier, her workplace came to her defense Tuesday.

The boy's mother works at a Head Start center  -- we are not disclosing the name or the location because of the backlash against her. But her coworkers put out this statement about her. We have omitted all names.

"The tragic event that happened at the Cincinnati Zoo over the holiday weekend hit very close to home. The child who made his way into the gorilla enclosure is the son of our site manager ... [She] is home with her son as he recovers from his injuries.

"[The staff] is thankful that he is safe. And, with the rest of the world, we are mourning the loss of the Cincinnati Zoo's beloved silverback.

"Our focus today, and every day, remains with our preschoolers. We ask the both the media and the public respect our learning environment and the privacy of our staff and families."