Zookeepers shot and killed a rare gorilla on Saturday after a 3-year-old boy slipped into its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, triggering outcry over how the situation was handled.
If they had to do it again, they would respond the same way, the zoo's director said Monday.
Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard said he stands by the decision to kill 17-year-old silverback Harambe to save the child. The boy went under a rail, through wires and over a moat wall to get into the enclosure, according to the zoo. Footage shot by a witness shows Harambe dragging the child through the water as the clamor of the crowd grows louder.
Zookeepers shot the 450-pound gorilla with a rifle, rather than tranquilizing him. The brief encounter sparked widespread Internet outrage over the decision to shoot Harambe and whether the child's parents were to blame for failing to look after him.
But those second-guessing the call "don't understand silverback gorillas," Maynard said in a news conference. And, they were not there when it was time to make the crucial decision.
"That child's life was in danger. People who question that don't understand you can't take a risk with a silverback gorilla -- this is a dangerous animal," he said. "Looking back, we'd make the same decision. The child is safe."