Celebrities react to Harambe the gorilla's death
Credit: Source: Cincinnati Zoo/Twitter

Celebrities are reacting to the controversial shooting of an endangered gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo over the weekend.

Seventeen-year-old gorilla Harambe was shot and killed on Saturday after a 4-year-old boy slipped into his enclosure. The child climbed through a public barrier, falling into the Gorilla World exhibit’s moat. While two female gorillas were removed from the enclosure immediately, Harambe remained near the child.

The Zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team determined that the situation was life-threatening, and decided to kill Harambe.

“The Zoo security team’s quick response saved the child’s life. We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically-endangered gorilla,” the zoo’s director Thane Maynard said in the statement. “This is a huge loss for the Zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.”

“He was acting erratically, he was disoriented,” Maynard said. “It’s due to his strength, that’s where the danger was.”

An eyewitness told PEOPLE that the gorilla displayed violent behavior soon after he came into contact with the young boy.

“What you don’t see is the way he pulled the boy up the wall. He was treating the little boy like a Raggedy Ann doll in his grip,” said Kim O’Connor, who filmed the incident.

Regardless, animal activists have launched a petition, pressing the zoo to take legal action against the boy’s parents. And several celebrities have spoken out against the zoo’s decision to kill Harambe and the parents’ involvement in the incident.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shared his opinion during a press conference Tuesday:

“I think it s a very tough call. It was amazing. Because there were moments with the gorilla the way he held that child, it was almost like a mother holding a baby. It looked so beautiful and calm. And there were moments where he looked pretty dangerous. I don t think they had a choice. Probably they didn t have a choice. you have a child, a young child who’s at stake. It’s too bad there wasn t another way. I thought it was so beautiful to watch that powerful, almost 500-pound gorilla, the way he dealt with that little boy. It just takes one second It just takes one little flick of his finger and I will tell you they probably had no choice.”