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.
Elsewhere, 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.
The gorilla had just turned 17 on Saturday - one day before the incident.