breaking news

Zoo director: ‘You can’t take a risk with a silverback gorilla’

Published: Saturday, May 28, 2016 @ 4:37 PM
Updated: Monday, May 30, 2016 @ 3:46 PM

FAST FACTS: Western Lowland Gorilla

Status: Endangered

Type: Mammal

Diet: Omnivore

Size: Standing, 4 to 6 feet

Weight: 150 to 400 pounds

Life span: 35 (in wild)

Source: National Geographic

A gorilla was killed Saturday after it dragged and injured a 3-year-old boy who got into its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.


  • Boy, 3, released from hospital for non-life-threatening injury
  • Gorilla killed was 450-pound male named Harambe
  • Lethal action was to save boy’s life, zoo director says
  • Boy between gorilla’s legs when it was shot
  • Gorilla World exhibit at Cincinnati Zoo temporarily closed

UPDATE @ 3:40 p.m. (May 30)

Thane Maynard, zoo director in Cincinnati, said it’s the hope to reopen the Gorilla World exhibit next weekend.

Maynard said the zoo is currently reviewing the barriers around exhibits to ensure the future safety of the zoo animals and patrons. He said the zoo goes through an accreditation process every five years, as well as inspections twice a year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I’m not a big finger pointed; we live in the real world and we make decisions,” Maynard said. “People can climb over barriers. … The barrier’s adequate and we all need to work to make sure our families are safe.”

Maynard said the decision to kill Harambe was not made lightly, adding that Harambe was “confused and disoriented.” Maynard said he’s seen Harambe crush a coconut with one hand.

“It is a big loss to the Cincinnati Zoo; Harambe was one of our most magnificent animals,” Maynard said in a press conference Monday.

Maynard said he’s never had such a large turnout for an early morning staff meeting on a holiday.

“Everybody at the zoo feels the loss,” Maynard said. “We are very glad the little boy is okay.”

“The child’s life was in danger; you can’t take a risk with a silverback gorilla,” Maynard said.

“Handsome Harambe” as the zoo staff affectionately called him was 17 years old and headed toward breeding. Maynard said the zoo does have some of Harambe’s sperm saved for search and potential breeding.

There were about 7,000 visitors to the zoo at the time of the incident. This was the first time a zoo animal had to be killed.

“The Cincinnati Zoo is taking responsibility; we’re in the ones who took the loss on this,” Maynard said. “It doesn’t affect anyone as much as it does the people here at the zoo.”

UPDATE @ 12 p.m. (May 30)

A vigil for Harambe the gorilla started at noon today at the Cincinnati zoo and runs until 2 p.m. The zoo’s director Thane Maynard will also update the media during a 3 p.m. press conference today.

UPDATE @ 6:55 p.m. (May 29)

A Fairborn mother of two witnessed the 3-year-old boy fall into the gorilla exhibit Saturday afternoon at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Brittany Nicely tried to stop the boy from getting into the Gorilla World enclosure.

“I tried to prevent it, I tried to grab him and I just couldn’t get to him fast enough,” said Nicely, who was standing next to the boy’s mother.

The Fairborn woman said after the boy was in the enclosure, the gorilla Harambe was “pulling him around almost as if it was his own.”

She said the exhibit was evacuated before first responders arrived.

“What the first responders saw, I’m just not sure … They said he was violently throwing the child around, which seems crazy to me. They have a picture of the boy sitting in front of the gorilla moments before they shot him.”

Her children were crying, and they all heard the gunshot, she said. “I don’t know if they knew what it was, but I did instantly.” A day after the incident, she said her kids are traumatized and don’t want to go back to the zoo.

UPDATE @ 4 p.m. (May 29)

The Gorilla World exhibit remains temporarily closed today after the enclosure was breached by a child Saturday afternoon, which led to the death of an endangered lowland gorilla named Harambe to save the boy.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden posted an update on its Facebook page today, stating that the 3-year-old boy who fell into the enclosure was released from the Children’s Hospital Medical Center Saturday night and is expected to be OK.

The post goes on to state that the “Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden family is in mourning today and trying to process the death of 17-year-old gorilla Harambe.”

“The gorilla was killed yesterday in order to save the life of a child who climbed through a public barrier at Gorilla World and dropped fifteen feet into the exhibit’s moat, which contained a foot of water,” the Zoo’s Facebook post reads.

The zoo reports this is the first time the public barrier at the gorilla exhibit has been breached since it opened in 1978.

“We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team,” said Zoo Director Thane Maynard in a prepared statement. “Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit. The two females complied, but Harambe did not.”

The Associated Press reported that witnesses heard the boy’s mother tell him he couldn’t go in the water with the gorillas after he said he wanted to. Witnesses said the mother was with several other young children.

Maynard noted in the prepared statement that tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option.

“Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse,” Maynard’s stated.

Cincinnati Zoo’s Gorilla World exhibit, which continues to shelter nine western lowland gorillas, is inspected regularly by federal officials and adheres to safety guidelines, according to the zoo’s Facebook post.

Saturday’s incident is being investigated to determine whether any changes need to be made.


A 17-year-old western lowland silverback gorilla was shot to death Saturday after a 3-year-old boy crawled through a barrier around 4 p.m. and landed in the moat at the Gorilla World habitat at the zoo. The child was walking and splashing in the water before the gorilla picked him up and dragged him around the enclosure for about 10 minutes, zoo Director Thayne Maynard said, WCPO-TV reported.

The 450-pound gorilla, which turned 17 on Friday, was “slamming the child into the wall,” according to Cincinnati police reports on the incident. Witnesses said the child was screaming as he was being dragged, WCPO reported.

The zoo’s dangerous animal response team decided to kill Harambe because the boy was in immediate danger and a tranquilizer has a delayed effect, Maynard said.

“It seemed very much … to be a life-threatening situation,” the zoo director told WCPO on Saturday. “They made the right choice. It could have been very bad.”

Two other gorillas in the exhibit were called back inside by zoo staff, and Harambe was shot dead. A Cincinnati Fire Department report stated the gorilla was “violently dragging and throwing the child” when they were called, and that the boy was between the gorilla’s legs when the endangered animal was shot, WLWT-TV reported.

The boy was sitting upright and was calm when rescuers pulled him from the enclosure, according to WCPO. The child was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. His injuries were described as serious but not life-threatening, police said.

According to the Associated Press report, witness Kim O’Connor captured part of the incident on video. The video shows Harambe and the boy are in the corner of the moat while a voice can be heard, “Somebody call the zoo!” and “Mommy’s right here.”

Maynard said the exhibit is safe, and that the zoo has never before had a problem with a visitor getting through the array of steel wires.

Although Maynard said Harambe’s death was justified, he expressed regret over the zoo’s loss.

“Harambe was a good guy,” Maynard said. “He was a youngster; the hope was to breed him.”

Harambe came to the zoo in April 2015 from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. He was paired with two females.

The zoo is open as usual, but Gorilla World will remain closed until further notice.

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Police search for suspects in reported armed robbery 

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 10:12 PM

Police are currently looking for two suspects after a reported armed robbery at Rich’s gas station on Salem Avenue, according to dispatchers.

Initial reports indicated the two suspects were wearing hoodies. 

There was no report of shots fired. 

It is unknown if anyone was injured.

The report was made around 9:40 p.m. 

We are working to learn multiple details about this developing story.

Vacant home destroyed after it explodes in Dayton 

Published: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 2:19 PM
Updated: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 10:28 PM

Dayton fire video

UPDATE @ 10:30 p.m: A vacant home in Dayton is destroyed after being the latest case of an explosion that occurred Sunday afternoon. 

TRENDING: Vehicle entrapment in Enon: Dayton News

Crews responded to the 160 block of Bluecrest Avenue after receiving calls that a house was on fire around 1:30 p.m. While en route, responders were also told that neighbors  described hearing multiple explosions.

RELATED: Fire severely damages garage and part of home in Greeneville

The home’s front windows, in addition to stones on the front the house, were all blown off during the explosion. In total, firefighters estimate the damage to be about $45,000. 

No one was hurt as a result of the explosion, even though neighbors told our crew that they reported seeing a homeless person potentially living there.

“The home is vacant, and utilities were shut off months ago” said Tim Rose, District Fire Chief.

Investigators are still working to find out what caused the explosion.


Fire crews have been on scene of a working house fire in the 100 block of Bluecrest Avenue. 

Initial reports indicate there was an explosion. 

Dayton Fire District Chief Tim Rose told WHIO-TV that fire crews received a call at about 1:30 p.m. that a house was on fire. En route, responders were told witnesses heard an explosion.

“The house appears to have had explosions,” Rose said. “The front windows were blown out.”

He said investigators are looking into the situation. 

Police find no evidence of break-in at Fairfield Commons

Published: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 4:06 AM
Updated: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 9:32 AM

(Joey Bryant/Staff)
(Joey Bryant/Staff)

UPDATE @ 9:30 a.m.

Police found no evidence of a break-in after a glass door shattered at The Fairfield Commons Mall early Sunday.

According to dispatchers, the glass was unstable and may have broken on its own. The glass was part of the door to Finish Line shoe store. 

Despite earlier reports, police found no evidence of a break-in.


Police are on the scene of a report of breaking and entering at 2727 Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek. 

Construction crews working at a Chick-fil-A said they witnessed broken glass at the front door of the Finish Line shoe store. 

RELATED: Crash on Ohio 4 in Riverside turns deadly

Mall security did not give any details to our crews on the scene. 

We are working to learn multiple details about this story. 

One taken to hospital after accident on Salem Ave.

Published: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 2:46 AM

(Joey Bryant/Staff)
(Joey Bryant/Staff)

One person has been taken to a hospital after an accident at 5360 Salem Ave. in Trotwood.

Police said that the driver was rear-ended by a second vehicle at the intersection. 

According to our crews on the scene, the driver of the vehicle that was struck was transported to a hospital. The driver suffered minor injuries.

The second car that struck the driver will be cited with failure to stop.