People gather at Cincinnati Zoo to remember Harambe, the gorilla - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

People gather at Cincinnati Zoo to remember Harambe, the gorilla

Visitors placed flowers and cards by statue at Gorilla World (PHOTO: Cincinnati Zoo/Provided) Visitors placed flowers and cards by statue at Gorilla World (PHOTO: Cincinnati Zoo/Provided)
PHOTO: Youtube/ Watch Life) PHOTO: Youtube/ Watch Life)
Harambe, the 17-year-old Western Lowland Gorilla. (YouTube/CincinnatiZoo) Harambe, the 17-year-old Western Lowland Gorilla. (YouTube/CincinnatiZoo)
Approximately 30 people have gathered at the Cincinnati Zoo to remember the 17-year-old gorilla shot and killed after a 4-year-old boy fell into the animal's enclosure Saturday. (FOX19 NOW Photo/Shawn Lanier) Approximately 30 people have gathered at the Cincinnati Zoo to remember the 17-year-old gorilla shot and killed after a 4-year-old boy fell into the animal's enclosure Saturday. (FOX19 NOW Photo/Shawn Lanier)
Crowd gathering at the Cincinnati Zoo to remember Harambe (FOX19 NOW Photo/Shawn Lanier) Crowd gathering at the Cincinnati Zoo to remember Harambe (FOX19 NOW Photo/Shawn Lanier)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Approximately 50 people gathered at the Cincinnati Zoo to remember the 17-year-old gorilla shot and killed after a 3-year-old boy fell into the animal's enclosure Saturday. 

Harambe, a 400 pound, male Western Lowland Gorilla, was shot dead after dragging a child who crawled through a barrier and fell about 15-feet into the exhibit's moat, Zoo Director Thane Maynard said.

Related: VIDEO: Boy falls into gorilla exhibit at Cincinnati Zoo

The incident also sparked controversy with animal rights activists against the zoo. 

PETA Primatologist Julia Gallucci issued the following statement in response to the killing of Harambe. 

Yet again, captivity has taken an animal's life. The gorilla enclosure should have been surrounded by a secondary barrier between the humans and the animals to prevent exactly this type of incident. Gorillas have shown that they can be protective of smaller living beings and react the same way any human would to a child in danger. Consider Binti Jua, the gorilla who carried a child to a zookeeper's gate. Even under the "best" circumstances, captivity is never acceptable for gorillas or other primates, and in cases like this, it's even deadly. This tragedy is exactly why PETA urges families to stay away from any facility that displays animals as sideshows for humans to gawk at.

Fire officials at the scene witnessed the gorilla "violently dragging and throwing the child," according to a release from Cincinnati Fire Department.

“The reason the tranquilizing was not chosen is that in an agitated situation, which the male was, it may take quite a while for a tranquilizer to take effect,” said Maynard. 

Maynard claimed the boy was never under attack, but that his safety was at risk. He said shooting the animal was the right decision. 

Visitors placed flowers and cards by a gorilla statue at the animal's exhibit immediately after news broke of the death of Harambe.

A Facebook group called "Justice for Harambe" was created hours after his death and has close to 40,000 likes.

Activists banned together in support of Harambe by creating a petition to pass 'Harambe's Law.'

The petition states the law would give legal consequences when an endangered animal is harmed or killed due to the negligence of visitors.

As of Monday morning, the petition had 30,049 supporters. 

Gorilla World at the zoo will be closed until further notice. This was the first breach of the exhibit, the zoo announced. 

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