New barrier, security cameras inside Cincinnati Zoo gorilla exhibit

The Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla exhibit re-opened today with several changes, including:

  • A new, higher barrier has been installed around the Gorilla World exhibit. The 42-inch fence with "substantial wood" and protective netting is "more than adequate," "perfectly safe" and typical of what the zoo has throughout most of its exhibits, said the zoo's executive director, Thane Maynard.
  • Three surveillance cameras have been installed inside the exhibit

The exhibit closed May 28 after a child climbed into the gorilla enclosure and was dragged by Harambe, a 17-year-old 450-pound silverback gorilla.

To protect the child, a zoo response team fatally shot the endangered animal, which sparked outrage on social media and has drawn international attention.

Losing Harambe — or any other zoo animal — is like losing a family member, Maynard told this news outlet when the exhibit re-opened.

“People who work at zoos care about their animals very much and so we are leaning on each other and sticking together, but of course it’s time to move on and to see gorillas again here,” Maynard said.

“The exhibit we had was safe,” he said. “It was safe for 38 years and over 43 million people came through this exhibit during that time. Every year it passed accreditation inspections through the AZA (American Zoo Association), it passed twice a year inspections from the USDA, but nonetheless we felt a new, bigger barrier helps reassure our visitors and guests and redoubles our effort to make sure our animals are safe and that our visitors are, as well.”

He said Chewie and Mara, two “savvy” 20-year-old female gorillas who lived with Harambe are doing well, sleeping normally and eating normally, as are the family of eight gorillas on display.

The Cincinnati Police Department completed its investigation into the boy’s parents earlier this week and filed its report to prosecutors.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters on Monday afternoon announced his office would not file charges against the boy's mother.

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