life, love, and maybe babies

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What a Zoo: My Unasked-For Take on Harambe and the Little Boy That Could

I'm taking a minute away from the infertility world to talk about the Cincinnati zoo incident from the weekend. I feel like we need to discuss this.

I don't usually take a stance on controversial issues because I typically have friends and family with their feet firmly cemented on both sides of whatever topic is trending. But something about this particular issue stuck with me.

First of all, I am a huge animal rights activist. Cecil the Lion being shot absolutely gutted me. I hate puppy mills. I think Pit Bulls are lovely creatures who are misunderstood and raised by the wrong people. I don't like to kill Lady Bugs. I would never wear real fur and I've tried 29 times to become a vegetarian. (I'm still working on that one. Bacon, people. Bacon.)


This was a child's life. An innocent little four year old boy who was doing what four year old boys do. Crawling, playing, testing boundaries. He managed to, according to the zoo, get "under a rail, through wires and over A MOAT wall to get into the enclosure."

Ya'll, he Mission Impossible'd himself in there. (The CIA should maybe recruit him after this hubbaloo dies down.) He wanted in and he was going to find a way to do it.

Reports have varied, but it sounds like at the beginning of the incident, the gorilla wasn't interested in harming the boy. Until the crowd got involved and understandably started to freak out. Then it agitated the gorilla and he became more violent, as the video shows. 

(Also, what kind of asshole takes a video of this happening? More on that later.)

All this aside, the fact remains, that little boy was probably going to be killed. Was the gorilla doing what gorillas do? Yes, it is a wild animal. Does that mean zoo should have sat by and let the little boy die? No. This was a total and complete freak accident that probably wouldn't happen again if you tried to recreate it three million times. 

What bothers me the most is the public outcry toward the mom of this child. I don't know her, and I don't know her story, but let me tell you a little story about me this weekend. 

My son is eight months old. He's essentially immobile, except when he's in his walker that he loves more than me. While cooking lunch on Sunday, I opened the pantry door to get out some bread. As I shut the door, I notice it was resisting. I thought maybe one of the hinges was broken. It never occurred to me that in the 2.3 seconds I had the pantry door open, my son had waddled over in his walker and stuck his meaty little fingers in the opening of the door swing. I HAD NEARLY CLOSED THE PANTRY DOOR ON MY SON'S FINGERS.

Incidentally, he's fine. There were tears and for a solid twenty minutes, I contemplated hurling myself off a bridge while screaming, "I'm a terrible mother!" on the way down. The fact that the one thing I love more than anything was hurt because of me was almost too much. And this was just some bruised fingers.

What if I had been that mom at the zoo? What if my squirrely little son had wandered off while I took a moment to ogle at the splendor of an amazing animal in front of me? 

Well, apparently you aren't allowed to do that in this world. The mom from the zoo has become a villain by the peanut gallery of nincompoops. Apparently she should have a leash or string around her child at all times. Because that's not weird or anything. 

Look, I get it. People think she was being negligent because that's an easy dart to throw. I, on the other hand, tend to err on the side of humanity and believe that she thought her kid was right next to her. For those that aren't parents, let me just inform you. Kids are smart. as. hell. They know when a parent is distracted and they take full advantage. Can we offer a little kindness to this mom whose son is laying in a hospital bed and whom she had to watch be dragged by a 400-pound (innocent yes, but still 400-pound) gorilla? Can we have some compassion, for f*ck's sake?

And now, the gorilla. My heart aches that Harambe is gone. This is by and large my main problem with zoos to begin with. We take wild animals and put them in enclosures so we can stare and laugh at them when they throw their poop at us. Then we're surprised when something unexpected happens and the animals act accordingly to their nature?


There's loads of outrage about whether a tranquilizer should have been tried first, but as I understand it, tranquilizers can take time and cause extreme agitation. The zoo had no way of knowing what the gorilla was getting ready to do, nor did they have time to sit around and think about what the Twittersphere would think. They had to act. 

And that sucks. The whole situation is a gigantic hurricane of suck.

I'm so torn. As a mother, I want the zoo (or amusement park, or Chuck E Cheese or Sky Zone) to do whatever they have to do to keep my son safe, even if he is being a little asshole. On the other hand, I know this gorilla  did nothing wrong. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and none of it was by his own choosing. He is dead because we feel the need to capture him and watch him for our own personal pleasure. But at the end of all of this, with the crap circumstances being what they were, I don't feel the  zoo was wrong. My heart breaks for the zookeeper that had to fire the shot. He didn't take that job hoping to get the chance to kill an endangered, beautiful, amazing creature. And yet, here we are. There is no cut and dry answer. There is a lot of drilling down into the nitty gritty that could potentially be explored. But that won't happen. It's easier to call the mom a piece of trash, the zoo trigger happy and the kid a brat.

Welcome to the human race.

I feel like this, along with other stories like fatal gun shootings, will fade into the background as the next news cycle comes in. And that makes me sad. Harambe is gone, but the boy is alive. A little boy who didn't understand the implications of what he did will reap the repercussions of this for a long time to come.

As for the mom in this story, I hope she's the innocent I'm making her out to be. I hope it doesn't turn out that she's a terrible mother who leaves her kid in a hot car while she runs in to the post office to mail a letter. I hope she doesn't sue the zoo. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt, because I hope someone would give it to me. I hope my daycare provider sees my child's swollen fingers today and knows that life happened yesterday. Messy, sucky, painful life.

Lastly, you better believe I'm not blaming the walker company or the hinge company for my son's injury. And he will still play in his walker. I'm not going to wrap him in plastic bubble wrap. 


Be kind to each other. Be kind to animals. And be kind to yourself.



GillyGal said...

Beautifully said. I couldn't possibly agree more!

Dipitie S said...

There is nothing I can do or say that is going to change what has already happened, and I am trying not to read anything about it any longer.

That being said, it was reported that she is a child care provider (although I don't think on duty) that was watching several children. How many exactly? No clue. Who did the kids belong to? Why was she so distracted that her three year old could climb into a wild animal exhibit? That child could have just as easily been abducted, in which case most parents that are currently defending her would probably no longer be.

Comparing this to shutting your child's fingers in a door, while painful and traumatizing, is ridiculous. That's like comparing a fender bender in a parking lot to driving the wrong way down a freeway on high speed and having a head on collision. In one scenario, there is death.

Bogdan Yanov said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kim said...

I think you have to be careful about making judgments when the words "it was reported" are involved. Reporting is not reliable with random people on the internet making up things as they go along.

Also, I don't think my comparison is ridiculous. Like I said, I'm not saying it's comparing apples to oranges. I am simply saying as a mom, it's amazing how fast things can happen when you're looking the other way and used this story about my son as an example. It's empathy, and I have a lot of it for this woman.

Anonymous said...

"For those of you who aren't parents"

What are those of us who aren't parents fucking retards? Of course the Mommy Mafia came to that woman's defense because parents today are never accountable for anything.

Kim said...

For heaven's sake, no. I was simply saying that people who are not parents may not realize how crafty kids can be. Hell, I didn't realize it before I had my kid! No disrespect to people who don't have kids.

I think the terror this mom felt was probably retribution enough without the public coming with their pitchforks before knowing one single thing about her. And I agree parents aren't often held accountable in this day and age. If it was determined that she was grossly neglectful, she should be held accountable. As it is, I think she probably made a bad mistake (which is not illegal, by the way) and gets to suffer the consequences the rest of her life from people who lack empathy.

Kaeleigh MacDonald said...

Down! Down, Greg! *whack whack* We talked about this on Facebook but it bears rehashing. Seeing your child almost pummeled by a 4000 lb gorilla and then receiving death threats is enough. There is no way to make her "responsible" or to "repay" what happened. Unless you are seriously campaigning for her to be charged the gorilla and lose everything to do so? Don't be sick. Accidents happen. Sometimes with tragic outcomes. But an accident none the less.

Anonymous said...

Plenty of people recognize that kids can be crafty which is why you need to be paying attention to them and not taking selfies or play with your phone especially in that type of an environment.

Just because you didn't realize it before you had kids doesn't mean other parents didn't know before they had kids. The "For those of you who don't have kids" is extensively insulting to those who don't have kids and a kick below the belt for those of us unable to have kids.


Though you can't change the past this is an opportunity for this mom to educate other parents on zoo safety. I haven't seen this parent do this but hope that she does at some point.

Kim said...

Oh I'm sorry, Greg. I didn't realize you were there to witness this mom be on her phone and taking selfies. My bad.

Also, when you use the word "fucking retards", you look like a douche canoe. So why should I have empathy for you as someone who can't have children when you would be so demeaning to others? Girl, bye.

Anonymous said...

You are demeaning to those who can't have children. You got your happy ending and have moved on. People like myself don't exist anymore in your world. You clearly don't have empathy for people like myself.

In this situation I had empathy for the child not the parent.

Kim said...

Man, you are making some sweeping judgments. I have not forgotten those who can't have children, and how can you POSSIBLY make that assumption? You pulled one sentence out of a blog entry and made it entirely about yourself.

I have empathy for both the child and the parent who made a mistake. Since you are someone who doesn't have children and apparently has so much understanding about being a parent, I'm sad you don't have more empathy toward this parent. I can promise you that parents, as well as non-parents, all make mistakes in regards to raising children. Being forgiving goes a lot farther than making assumptions when you weren't even present.

Kaeleigh MacDonald said...

Holy balls.
Greg. Stop it. You literally commended me on my post about just that thing today! About not always being 'ON' for your kids. But hear you hurl attacks and assumptions saying we DO need to always be on. Be perfect. Hello? We're all humans.
In reference to Kim, having left everyone behind and not caring about infertiles anymore, how fucking dare you. No, honestly. Have you no compassion? Do you not understand that hurts and isn't true? She's still here. Blogging. In the community. Doing her thing... So. In the spirit of fair is fair "Shut. Up. Troll."
Ok? Kiss noise!

Anonymous said...


You have ignored me and others who aren't parents like yourself ever since you had your son. Sure I've been a dick but it's because when your the one left behind and ignored you feel invisible. And when you use phrases like for those of you who aren't parents it's a kick below the belt. I'm sad that you can't see that.

I don't have any understanding of what it's like to be a parent. But I recognize that kids especially toddlers can take off and that you have to take precautions. Her reaction was like it was no big deal. It was a very big deal and another being had to lose its life.


I think there's a difference between being on all the time and when you put yourself in the situation this woman did. We agree to disagree on it as we did on FB and that's cool.

With regards to Kim well she's here for people in the trenches and those who have kids. I know I gave you a hard time in a similar way but at least you were trying. We should be trying to help each other no matter where we come from not forgetting anyone.

Kim said...

What in the actual hell are you talking about!? I have not ignored one single person. I have not been as active on Twitter since my son, truth. I was unaware there were a certain number of hours I had to log in order to please you on a completely voluntarily social media site.

If you'd like to engage in a conversation like an adult, I am more than happy to do so. If you choose to use phrases such as "fucking retards" in your complaints about a blog, then I will treat you as the three year old you're acting like.

"sure I've been a dick" does not excuse your behavior.

Kaeleigh MacDonald said...

May I respectfully disagree and call attention to the fact that if we are to support EVERYONE,no matter where we're coming from, then we do need to include those of us who got lucky any had kids. Good will goes both ways.
I'm out.

Kim said...

Thanks, Kaeleigh. Much love. XOXOX

Anonymous said...

It's not a matter of being on a certain number of hours or having a certain number of tweets but just overall interactions with people and it only being those who have kids. Heck my activity goes in spurts depending upon what is going on in my life. And Kaeleigh is right about everyone being supported kids or not. I try to support parents even though I don't have a clue what they're going through. People with kids definitely need to be supported and people without kids shouldn't be forgotten. We've all gone through so much that we should be able to work through things. If parents aren't sure how to support others who don't have kids, check out this piece.

If you only want to interact with parents and those who are pregnant, that's fine. But don't sit here and say you are here for all when you aren't.

Kim said...

Do you know my life? Do you track my every tweet to see who I'm interacting with? I hope not because then I am truly sad for you. You have no idea who I am friends with in real life (that's right, I have a life away from Twitter). Do you know the several friends I have who may not be able to have children? No.

I'm done with this conversation. It's too bad that you think I don't suppor those who will not have children. Maybe it's more to do with that I don't have a lot of desire to support you due to your childish antics and foot stomping when every single blog post doesn't relate to your situation.

I don't mention secondary infertility a lot. Do those that are dealing with that come at me? No, because they understand that there are probably other blogs dedicated to that exact circumstance, and they can get true support from people experiencing that on those sites. I've never claimed to be a blog that focuses on being childless. I blog about my life as it was experienced from an infertility standpoint. Yes, I got a happy ending but I am still scarred and wounded from those times when I thought a child would never happen. When I wasn't getting pregnant, I read tons of blogs of people who were able to get pregnant and I read them happily. If I was having a bad day, I wouldn't read them. But NEVER did I attack those who had become pregnant and throw a fit because they weren't addressing my personal situation on their blog. What a narcissistic thing to do.

I love everyone who is struggling to get pregnant the first time, the second time, those who have miscarried, those who have decided to stop trying and be without a child, those who adopt, those who use surrogacy. That's a lot of topics to cover. So pardon me if your very specific situation isn't covered every time. You have the option to not read what I write.

And in case your parents didn't teach you: you get a lot farther with sugar than vinegar.


Anonymous said...

Maybe I've missed those interactions and if I have I apologize. And yes I have a life outside of online interactions as I'm sure anyone does.

I haven't responded to every single blog post that doesn't concern my situation. If it's something I can't relate to or have nothing to say I don't comment. There are plenty of pregnant and parents that I support. But support can't be one sided. It's not attacking people but the attitude others have that they either don't listen or don't care.

One thing you are misunderstanding is that for some of us it isn't so much people deciding to be without child it's just that it didn't happen for us. Things happen in our lives that are out of our control its not a matter of giving up or not trying hard enough.

I don't appreciate the insults to my parents or the name calling. I may have attacked your community outreach but not you as a person.

I'll step away this conversation as this is your blog your space. All I was trying to do is bring attention how a phrase can be offensive considering some of the audience. Perhaps I went about it the wrong way.

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