(CINCINNATI) — The Cincinnati Zoo reopened its Gorilla World exhibit on Tuesday, closing a chapter on the controversy that erupted after a toddler fell into the gorilla enclosure, forcing the zoo to shoot and kill an endangered silverback to save the boy.
The Gorilla World exhibit has been fitted with a new, modified barrier, zoo officials said.
Zoo director Thane Maynard said at the reopening Tuesday that the loss of Harambe, the zoo’s beloved gorilla, is like losing a family member, but that the zoo needs to move on. The zoo’s new barriers are “bigger and better,” he added, and the Gorilla World exhibit now features three new surveillance cameras.
“The new barrier railing is 42 [inches] high with solid wood beams at the top and on the bottom with knotted rope netting,” the zoo said in a statement last week, noting that the “previous barrier passed multiple inspections by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and adhered to safety guidelines.”
Maynard added, “It takes hard work and a sustained commitment to excellence to meet AZA accreditation standards. Our exhibit goes above and beyond standard safety requirements, but in light of what happened, we have modified the outer public barrier to make entry even more difficult.”
The reopening of Gorilla World comes a day after the Cincinnati Police Department announced there would be no charges filed against the family of the toddler who fell into the enclosure.
The toddler’s family released a statement shortly after the May 28 incident, expressing their thanks to the Cincinnati Zoo for its actions.
“Our child has had a checkup by his doctor and is still doing well. We continue to praise God for his grace and mercy and to be thankful to the Cincinnati Zoo for their actions taken to protect our child,” the family said. “We are also very appreciative for the expressions of concern and support that have been sent to us. Some have offered money to the family, which we do not want and will not accept. If anyone wishes to make a gift, we recommend a donation to the Cincinnati Zoo in Harambe’s name.”
The shooting death of the 450-pound gorilla spark heated debate about parental responsibility and whether the toddler was in fact in danger. It also prompted much outrage from animal rights activists.
The Cincinnati Zoo and the Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas, where Harambe was born, have both set up funds for people to donate money in support of endangered gorilla research, in memory of Harambe.
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