By Cady Lang
May 31, 2016

Animal rights activists have created an online petition on Change.org to protest the death of an endangered gorilla who was fatally shot after a three-year-old boy fell into its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The petition, which has already garnered over 300,ooo signatures, asks that the Cincinnati Zoo, Child Protective Services and the Cincinnati Police Department hold the parents of the child responsible for the death of the 17-year-old male gorilla.

The zoo decided to shoot, as opposed to tranquilize, the 450-pound silverback gorilla to minimize the risk of aggression since the boy was in close proximity to the animal.

The petition reads: “This heartbreaking decision was made in the best interests of keeping the child and the public safe. This beautiful gorilla lost his life because the boy’s parents did not keep a closer watch on the child. We the undersigned believe that the child would not have been able to enter the enclosure under proper parental supervision…It is believed that the situation was caused by parental negligence and the zoo is not responsible for the child’s injuries and possible trauma.We the undersigned want the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life.”

The child’s family also released a statement via a public relations firm, stating that the boy is “doing just fine” and offering condolences for the death of Harambe.

“We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff,” the statement read. “We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla.”

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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