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Parents of Boy Who Got into Gorilla Enclosure at Zoo Will Not Be Criminally Charged

Prosecutors in Cincinnati recently made the decision not to file criminal charges against the family of the young boy who somehow got into the gorilla’s enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The incident made national headlines after video footage of the three-year-old boy trapped inside the enclosure went viral on the Internet. It also prompted outrage from animal rights groups after the gorilla, named Harambe, was shot and killed by zoo officials. That’s because the gorilla is considered an endangered species.

What Happened at the Cincinnati Zoo?

The boy and his family were at the Cincinnati Zoo when the child somehow snuck past a fence and got into the gorilla enclosure. Zoo visitors then looked on in horror as the giant gorilla, estimated to weigh more than 450 pounds, dragged the tiny boy across a moat. The scary situation unfolded for approximately 10 minutes before zoo officials made the difficult decision to kill the animal.

Thankfully, the boy was not seriously injured as a result of the encounter. Although early reports indicated that the child may have suffered a concussion, he avoided the kind of physical damage that many people feared when they first saw him in the gorilla enclosure.

No Criminal Charges against the Boy’s Mother

Local law enforcement opened an investigation into the scary incident and soon focused on the family. For a while, it appeared possible that the mother of the boy who got into the gorilla area would be charged with a crime – endangering the welfare of a child – for not paying attention to her kid.

The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office ultimately decided that the mother of the boy did not criminally neglect him. As a result, prosecutors declined to file charges against the family.

Prior to making the decision not to charge the family in connection with the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo, law enforcement officials spoke with witnesses who said that there was no way for the mother to have known that her child had run off and gotten inside the gorilla enclosure. One witness actually overheard the mother admonishing her child and telling not to go into the moat before the incident unfolded.

For more information about this case, read the CNN.com article, “Cincinnati Gorilla Incident: Police Investigating Boy’s Family.”


If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in New Jersey, it is imperative that you speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Law Firm of Stephen R. Piper today to discuss your case over the phone or to schedule a free consultation at our office.


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