No criminal charges are to be filed against the mother of the three-year-old boy who fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, causing zookeepers to kill an endangered gorilla to protect the child, an Ohio prosecutor said on Monday.
A 17-year-old endangered western lowland silverback gorilla named Harambe was shot by zoo staff in the minutes after the boy fell on May 28, touching off a storm of criticism aimed at both the zoo and the boy’s mother.
Some critics had called for criminal charges against the mother, who was with the boy at the zoo, for reckless endangerment.
Police and prosecutors did not provide the name of the mother, but multiple media reports identified her as 32-year-old Michelle Gregg, who works as a preschool administrator.
The boy suffered a concussion and some scrapes, but escaped serious injury.
The family previously said it does not intend to sue the zoo.
“I am very sorry about the loss of this gorilla, but nothing about this situation rises to the level of a criminal charge,” Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph Deters said on Monday.
“Had she been in the bathroom smoking crack and let her kids run around the zoo, that would be a different story,” he said.
Deters also said he was glad the zoo had changed the gorilla enclosure to prevent a repeat of the incident. It reopened yesterday with a higher barrier and added knotted rope netting.
The family said it is pleased with the prosecutor’s decision.
“This is one more step in allowing us to put this tragic episode behind us and return to our normal family life,” the family said in a statement.
The boy was at the zoo with his mother, three sisters, aged seven, four and one, and family friends when he climbed over a 1m-high barrier and fell 4.5m into a moat.
The gorilla dragged the child through the enclosure before zoo officials shot him.
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