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Video of Gorilla Saving a Boy Who Fell Into Its Enclosure in 1996 Resurfaces After Cincinnati Zoo Incident

Same story, different outcome. Just days after Harambe the gorilla was tragically killed at the Cincinnati Zoo, a two-decade-old video of a similar incident resurfaced online.

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In August 1996, a 3-year-old boy slipped away from his mother and fell 18 feet into a gorilla enclosure at the Brookfield Zoo in in Chicago. An 8-year-old gorilla named Binti Jua picked up the unconscious child, with her own baby on her back, and carried him to safety.

Binti Jua
Binti Jua rescusing a boy at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago in 1996.

The unidentified boy suffered a broken hand and cuts on his face. He spent four days in the hospital but managed to fully recover. Binti Jua captured hearts as the video clip, which was recorded by a zoogoer, made headlines around the world at the time.

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According to CBS News, the female gorilla, who still lives at the Brookfield Zoo, was raised by humans and was “people-oriented.”

The 1996 incident evokes the eerily similar events at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday, May 28, where Harambe was shot and killed in an attempt to save a 4-year-old boy who fell into his enclosure.

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The Cincinnati Zoo released a statement after Saturday’s incident, stating that the security team’s “quick response saved the child’s life.” Police are now investigating the family of the Cincinnati boy, although it isn’t likely that they’ll be charged with child endangerment, according to a report by the Associated Press on Wednesday, June 1.

Saturday’s incident led to an uproar from animal activists and celebrities alike, including Kaley Cuoco and Jane Goodall. The boy’s mother immediately defended herself against critics in a now-deleted Facebook post, writing, “As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids.”

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