Devastated. Heartbroken. In mourning.
Those are some of the words the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden used Sunday in a contrite explanation for the death of Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla killed on Saturday to save a boy who slipped into the zoo's habitat.
The boy was in "imminent danger," leaving the zoo's Dangerous Animal Response Team with no option but to shoot the 450-pound gorilla, zoo director Thane Maynard said in a statement on Facebook. Tranquilizers may not have taken effect in time to save the boy while the dart might have agitated the animal, worsening the situation, Maynard said.
"We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child's life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made," he said.
The words did little to assuage an angry chorus of critics who believed the gorilla's death was unnecessary. Many blamed the boy's mother for failing to look after her son. Neither the boy nor his family have been identified.