This week, the Internet exploded in outrage when the Cincinnati Zoo shot and killed Harambe, a silverback gorilla, to protect the 3-year-old who fell into its enclosure. I’m David Spinnaker, Zookeeper at Zoo Wyoming. I can assure you that no one feels more outraged by all the hubbub than me. You see, before the Internet, zoos just quietly shot the gorillas that stole our kids all the time.
How I long for a simpler time–say, before 1994–when no one had computers with access to dial-up Internet. This was an easier time for zoos. When 400-pound gorillas lured our children into their enclosures to raise them as their own, we could quickly shoot them and get on with our day. People never heard about it and never questioned anyone’s parenting. And if you ask me, human parents are no matches for a loving father gorilla who sets his sights on your child and wants to raise him up right.
To give you an idea of how often gorillas try to steal human children, look at your calendar and count how many days there are in a week. Seven. Seven days a week, a gorilla tries to steal a kid. It’s biology. And if it weren’t for our guns, the gorilla enclosures at every zoo would be more human than ape.
People seem to forget that the 2016 film “The Jungle Book” was a well-researched exploration of the real life of Mowgli Adams, the 6-year-old boy who was adopted by wolves at a zoo in Raipur, India. Wolves and gorillas. They’re the same. Pretty much every animal wants to steal kids except for elephants, who just want to be left alone.
Before the Internet’s inescapable grip took hold, we shot gorillas freely and without oversight. We shot them even when we had the time to tranquilize them, because it was cleaner and more fun. It’s not like gorillas are endangered. That’s the lie Big Zoo tells you to get you to pay for admission, and I risk losing my job by admitting it here.
If we’re on the subject of lies, Koko, the western lowland gorilla who speaks sign language learned it by communicating with the 8-year-old deaf child she kidnapped. The kitten they gave her was just a cover-up. Gorillas and cats can’t really be friends. Everyone knows that.
I hope the outrage people feel about Harambe will dissipate after learning the truth, but I doubt it will, as the Internet is just a ravenous beast looking to devour its next prey. Speaking of ravenous beasts, I must leave you to go “take care” of Kiki, the baby panda, for looking at a 5-year-old too long.
Kristen Bartlett is a writer and actor whose credits include UCB, MTV, Hulu’s Difficult People, and A Prairie Home Companion. Follow her @KristenCheeks.