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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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Suspect named in pursuit, crash and fire in Sidney

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 5:19 PM
Updated: Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 1:53 AM

UPDATE @ 11 a.m. (June 23):

Officers have identified the man who led officers on a chase a short time before he crashed causing a power outage and fire at the Shelby County Board of Elections Thursday afternoon.

Dante Bradford, of Cincinnati, was charged with failure to comply and additional charges are expected to be reviewed by the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office.

UPDATE @ 1:54 a.m. 06/23/17

The Board of Elections had a power surge which caused a power outage in the building and surrounding street, according to Cameron Haller, the Sidney Fire Department deputy chief.

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Haller said the surge caused a short in the attic leading to smoke filling the room, and coming out of the building. 

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Crews were on scene at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday fixing street lights and installing a new electric pole when they saw the smoke and went into normal structure fire response, Haller said.

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The fire crews went into the building and were able to put out the fire without issue or damage and were also able to salvage the voting machines, Haller said.

The fire, for the size of the building, was minimal, according to Haller. 

The vehicle pursuit crash caused power lines to come down on top of another car trapping the two people inside until Dayton Power and Light was called to remove wires, Haller said. The two people that were trapped were transported to the hospital. 

UPDATE @ 6:50 p.m.

The pursuit this afternoon that led to a small fire at the Shelby County Board of Elections began as an attempted traffic stop for a minor violation on Interstate 75, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said.

The deputy called off the pursuit due to unsafe speeds, but then it resumed after the motorist drove at another deputy, according to the sheriff’s office.

The driver, who was injured and flown to Miami Valley Hospital, has not been identified. More information about the incident is expected to be released by the sheriff’s office.

The crash in Sidney is under investigation by the Piqua Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

UPDATE @ 6 p.m.

Sgt. Joshua Divens, Sidney police, said the board of elections fire relates to an earlier pursuit and crash. 

The pursuit started prior to 3 p.m. with Shelby County deputies. The pursuit went off Interstate 75 south and onto Fair Road in Sidney.

The pursuit ended in the area of Miami Avenue and Court Street — taking down wires and a power light. 

Divens said while Dayton Power and Light crews were fixing the damage, smoke was noticed from the Shelby County Board of Elections.

Divens said the driver in the pursuit did flee on foot before being caught. He was injured and flown to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.

Two others were injured from a second vehicle, Divens said.


Crews were called this evening to a fire at the Shelby County Board of Elections.

The board is located at 230 E. Court St. in Sidney.

We are working to learn more about this developing story.

GOT A TIP? Contact the monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237 or newsdesk@cmgohio.com 

Trump doesn't have Comey tapes

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 12:40 PM
Updated: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 1:07 PM

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: U.S. President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), during an Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Trump on June 16 lashed out at the Justice Department official with authority over the special counsel probe of Russian election-meddling, and acknowledged that his firing of Comey as FBI director is a focus of the investigation. Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

After President Donald Trump first hinted that he might have recordings of his private conversations with fired FBI director James Comey, he admitted Thursday on Twitter that he had no such tapes.

>> Read more trending news

“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea ... whether there are 'tapes' or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” he wrote.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Location of OVI checkpoint Friday in Dayton announced

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 5:04 PM
Updated: Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 11:25 AM

UPDATE @ 11:25 a.m. (June 23)

The Combined Agency OVI Task Force of Montgomery County will conduct an OVI checkpoint in the area of North Gettysburg Avenue and Kings Highway starting at 9 p.m. Friday. 

The location of the checkpoint was announced in compliance with state law. 

>> Read the latest local stories in the Miami Valley 


A sobriety checkpoint will be conducted Friday in Dayton by the Combined Agency OVI Task Force of Montgomery County.

The location of the checkpoint will be announced Friday.

The checkpoint and enhanced patrols during the weekend are an effort of law enforcement agencies to deter and apprehend impaired drivers. The majority of deadly crashes occur on weekends, according to the task force.

Ohio law requires police agencies to announce OVI checkpoints and locations in advance.

GOT A TIP? Contact the monitored 24-hour line at 937-259-2237 or newsdesk@cmgohio.com  

Rapper Prodigy of Mobb Deep dies at 42

Published: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 @ 2:26 PM

Rapper Albert Johnson, best known by his stage name Prodigy and as one-half of highly acclaimed rap duo Mobb Deep, died Tuesday, according to multiple reports. He was 42 years old.

>> Read more trending news

A publicist for Mobb Deep confirmed to XXL that he was found unconscious Tuesday morning and later died.