CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Since the death of the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo Saturday, zoo officials are asking the public for help in redoubling its efforts to support gorilla conservation.
Harambe was shot dead after dragging a 3-year-old child climbed over the barrier and into the gorilla enclosure. Fire officials at the scene witnessed the gorilla dragging the child through water and "violently dragging and throwing the child," according to a release from Cincinnati Fire Department.
Zoo officials said they had to put down the gorilla for the safety of the child. A tranquilizer does not take effect quickly enough and the gorilla may have become agitated, zoo officials said.
In the wake of Harambe's death, zoo officials said thousands of people have asked how they can help gorillas in the wild.
"For the past 15 years, the Cincinnati Zoo has played a key role in West Africa. The Zoo supports wild gorilla conservation efforts, like the Mbeli Bai Study in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo," zoo officials said Wednesday.
If you are interested in supporting gorilla conservation in honor of Harambe, you can by donating to the Mbeli Bai Study.
It is the longest-running field study of western lowland gorillas in the wild. Observations have provided unique insights into the gorilla's social organization and dynamics, zoo officials said.
The family of the boy who fell into the gorilla exhibit released a new statement Wednesday morning asking that donations be made to the Cincinnati Zoo in Harambe's name.
"We are also very appreciative for the expressions of concern and support that have been sent to us," the family wrote. "Some have offered money to the family, which we do not want and will not accept. If anyone wishes to make a gift, we recommend a donation to the Cincinnati Zoo in Harambe's name."
Zoo officials said you can help gorilla conservation by recycling old cell phones. Cell phones contain an ore called coltan, which is mined in endangered gorilla habitat in Africa. Loss of habitat and hunting are serious threats to the gorillas' future. Officials say reducing the demand for coltan will help save these animals and their habitat, the zoo said.
In addition, the public can sponsor a gorilla, as part of the zoo's A.D.O.P.T. program.