Witnesses said the gorilla was acting protectively in the tense situation, which may have been aggravated by panicked onlookers who screamed as they watched from above. 

Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard confirmed the boy was not under attack, but called it a 'life threatening situation' where the gorilla was 'agitated', 'disoriented', and 'behaving erratically'.

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Maynard supported the animal response team's decision to kill Harambe, and said: 'Looking back we would make the same decision.'

He also insisted the zoo's barriers were secure, saying: 'We all need to work to make sure our families are safe. Do you know any four-year-olds? They can climb over anything.'

The incident, which was captured on a cell phone camera, has sparked an outcry of emotion, with thousands of mourners branding it a 'senseless death'. 


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