brightcove.createExperiences(); The mother of the young boy who fell into the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla exhibit on May 28 – forcing zookeepers to gun down a 17-year-old endangered silverback – will not face criminal charges related to the controversial incident, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters revealed during a press conference held Monday afternoon.
“By all accounts, this mother did not act in any way that she presented this child into some harm,” the prosecutor told reporters. “She had three other kids with her, and she turned her back. I’ve gotten dozens if not hundreds of emails about this case. If anyone can t believe a 3-year-old can scamper off very quickly, then they’ve never had kids.”
His decision followed an extensive review of evidence collected by detectives as well as witness statements and interviews with the boy’s family.
“If she was smoking crack on the bathroom, it would be a different story,” Deters said.
Deters also lauded the quick thinking of zoo employees to spare the boy’s life.
The family of the young boy released a statement immediately following the announcement.
“The family is very pleased with this decision; it is what we expected. This is one more step in allowing us to put this tragic episode behind us and return to our normal family life. We extend thanks to all of those who have been praying for us and who have supported us through this trying ordeal and praise to God for His mercy and grace,” the statement read.
Detectives from Cincinnati’s police force turned over the findings of their investigation into Saturday’s incident to Deters last Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the prosecutor said he’d mull over the department’s recommendations.
Cincinnati police launched an investigation into the controversial incident last week, with a focus on determining whether the boy’s mother, 32-year-old Michelle Gregg, should be held responsible for what happened.
Police released audio from the 911 call Gregg made that afternoon as the massive primate dragged her son around the enclosure for around 10 minutes.
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The boy suffered only minor injuries while the male gorilla was shot to death, sparking outrage nationwide and spurring calls for Gregg’s arrest on social media.
In a statement, the Greggs thanked zoo officials for the actions they took “to protect our child. We are also very appreciative for the expressions of concern and support that have been sent to us. Some have offered money to the family, which we do not want and will not accept.”
Instead, the family suggests such donations be made to the Cincinnati Zoo in Harambe’s name.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has revealed it is conducting its own investigation into the safety protocols and day-to-day operations of the zoo.
The zoo announced that it will reopen its Gorilla World exhibit sometime this week, following the installation of higher safety barriers.
The May 28 incident was the first in the exhibit’s 38-year history, zoo officials disclosed.