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Gorilla Killing at Cincinnati Zoo Sparks Probe into Possible Criminal Charges | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Flowers lay around a bronze statue of a gorilla and her baby outside the Cincinnati Zoo’s Gorilla World exhibit, two days after a boy tumbled into its moat and officials were forced to kill Harambe, a 17-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla, in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 30, 2016. REUTERS/William Philpott

A gorilla was killed in Cincinnati Zoo in order to rescue a 4-year-old boy who had fallen into its enclosure, however the police are investigating possible criminal charges in regard of the incident that went viral, said a prosecutor on Tuesday.

A federal negligence complaint was filed, by animal rights activist group, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against the zoo, looking up to the maximum penalty of $10,000 after the killing of the 450-pound ape named Harambe, said the group on Tuesday.

“The failure of the Cincinnati Zoo to adequately construct this enclosure to protect both the public and the animal held prisoner there is a clear and fatal violation of the Animal Welfare Act,” Stop Animal Exploitation Now said in its complaint letter to the USDA.

More than 460,000 signatures were registered on online petitions at Change.org as a result of public outrage over the shooting of the ape which belongs to an endangered species, some of those who signed were asking for “Justice for Harambe” and urging police to hold the child’s parents accountable.

On the matter, authorities are reconsidering the possibility of criminal charges in the incident after police initially said no one was charged.

“The incident at the Cincinnati Zoo involving the young child who fell into the gorilla enclosure is under investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said in a statement. “Once their investigation is concluded, they will confer with our office on possible criminal charges.”

The Gorilla World exhibit has been closed since the incident and will reopen on Saturday.

Tanya Espinosa, a spokeswoman for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the complaint from Stop Animal Exploitation Now had been received but that an investigation had not yet been opened.