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Cincinnati Police Investigating Family of Child Who Fell Into Gorilla Enclosure

The Cincinnati police are investigating the family of the child who fell into a gorilla’s enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo over the weekend, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, May 31.

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According to the AP, authorities will be focusing on the parents’ actions leading up to the incident, and not how the facility handled the situation. Ohio State University criminal law professor Ric Simmons told the AP that it’s doubtful that the parents — Michelle Gregg and Deonne Dickerson — will be charged with child endangerment. A parent would more likely be charged if they left their son or daughter unattended for an extended amount of time.

Harambe the gorilla
Harambe the gorilla

“The mother was standing next to a zoo exhibit and lost track of her child for perhaps a minute or so,” Simmons said. “That has happened to almost every parent in the world in a public place.”

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As previously reported, Harambe the gorilla was shot and killed on Saturday, May 28, after Gregg and Dickerson’s 4-year-old boy fell 15 feet into the animal’s habitat. The incident has led to an outcry from animal activists on social media, including stars such as Kaley Cuoco, Piers Morgan, Kat McPhee, Ricky Gervais and Alyssa Milano.

Harambe the gorilla
Animal rights activists and mourners gather for a Memorial Day vigil outside the Cincinnati Zoo for Harambe the gorilla.

Despite the backlash, Thane Maynard, the director of the Cincinnati Zoo, stands by the decision to kill Harambe.

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“That child’s life was in danger,” Maynard said during a press conference on Monday. “People who question that don’t understand you can’t take a risk with a silverback gorilla — this is a dangerous animal. Looking back, we’d make the same decision. The child is safe.”

Gregg and Dickerson’s spokesperson, Gail Myers, told AP that the parents have no comment on the police investigation. They released a statement on Wednesday saying that their boy is “doing well” and they “praise God” for his safety.

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