Prosecutor to announce decision in Cincinnati Zoo gorilla case

Image: People attend a vigil outside the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, two days after a boy tumbled into its moat and officials were forced to kill Harambe, a Western lowland gorilla, in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. May 30, 2016. REUTERS/William Philpott

(Reuters) – A county prosecutor will announce on Monday whether or not he will bring charges against the family of a 3-year-old boy who fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday, prompting zoo officials to kill an endangered gorilla to rescue the child.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters was scheduled to hold a news conference on the incident at 1 p.m. EDT on Monday, his office said in a statement.

Cincinnati police said earlier they were focusing their investigation on the child’s parents and family and that they had turned over the results of their probe to Deters’ office for review..

The gorilla, a 17-year-old 450-pound (200-kg) animal named Harambe, was shot and killed by zoo staff after he dragged the boy around and was hurting him.

Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered and the killing triggered intense public debate over the zoo’s handling of the incident, the barrier to the gorilla enclosure, and the role of the boy’s parents.

The family said through a spokeswoman on Wednesday that the child was doing well, and that they had no plans to sue the zoo over the incident. The child had a concussion and some scrapes, the family said earlier on social media.

The zoo said on Thursday it will modify the railing that surrounds its Gorilla World exhibit, making the barrier higher and adding knotted rope netting. The exhibit has been closed but will reopen on Tuesday.


(This copy corrects day of announcement, it is Monday, not Friday)

(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.


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