Feds: Barrier in gorilla exhibit didn't meet US standards

Flowers lay around a bronze statue outside the Cincinnati Zoo's Gorilla World exhibit days after a 3-year-old boy fell into the moat and officials were forced to kill Harambe, a 17-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla, on June 2, 2016.

CINCINNATI — Federal inspectors concluded that the Cincinnati Zoo's barrier to keep the public and gorillas separate wasn't in compliance with standards for housing primates when a 3-year-old boy slipped into their exhibit, resulting in the shooting death of an endangered gorilla named Harambe.

The inspection report stated that the zoo's dangerous-animal response team properly followed procedures after zoo visitors called 911 on May 28 to report a child in the gorilla enclosure.

A team member concluded the child was in "life-threatening danger." The gorilla was killed to save the boy's life.

The zoo quickly made the barrier taller and used nylon mesh to close any gaps.


It said there had been no earlier issues with the barriers, which were found compliant in earlier federal inspections, including in April.

The federal investigation is continuing and could lead to fines or other disciplinary action.

The death of the 17-year-old male western lowland gorilla led to mourning around the globe, a storm of criticism and unending social media attention.

Animal rights activists and other gorilla fans expressed anger at Harambe's death, and it became the subject of countless memes and popular culture references.

The zoo recently reactivated its Twitter account after suspending it because of hacks by critics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.