A 4-year-old boy climbed through the public barrier at the Cincinnati Zoo's Gorilla World on Saturday

By Lindsay Kimble
May 29, 2016 09:35 AM

The Cincinnati Zoo’s 17-year-old gorilla Harambe was shot and killed on Saturday after a 4-year-old boy slipped into his enclosure, according to a statement on the park’s website.

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, according to the statement. Video shows (warning: this content might be disturbing to some) Harambe grabbing onto the little boy and carrying him around the enclosure while onlookers screamed.

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

“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.”

The child was responsive after being recovered from the enclosure, but was still transported to the city’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center. According to the statement, the hospital is not releasing details on his condition.

Maynard said in a press conference that the response team decided against using a tranquilizer because the drug would have taken effect too slowly, according to CNN.

Harambe, who weighed in at 400 pounds, celebrated his birthday Friday.

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