Gorilla killed to save 3-year-old who fell into Ohio zoo exhibit: Animal expert and child's mum responds to criticism

This isn't your typical monkey business.

The unprecedented news of a three-year-old boy falling into the gorilla enclosure of the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio, USA shook the world on May 29.

According to The Guardian, the boy had climbed over a 92cm fence, only to fall 4.5m into Harambe the gorilla's moat.

A bystander's YouTube video shows the gorilla being possessive of the boy, even touching and putting his arms around him in what many netizens say looked "'protective'.

Other parts of the clip show the powerful, 181kg primate recklessly dragging the boy through the water.

In a split-second decision to guarantee the boy's safety, Cincinnati zookeepers ultimately ordered for Harambe to be fatally shot down.

After netizens exploded with criticism at the zoo for heartlessly killing an animal that was only supposedly 'protecting' the boy, zookeeper and gorilla expert Amanda O'Donoughue decided to lay the facts straight.

"I keep hearing that the gorilla was trying to protect the boy. I do not find this to be true.

"Harambe reaches for the boys hands and arms, but only to position the child better for his own displaying purposes.

"Males do very elaborate displays when highly agitated, slamming and dragging things... he was reacting to the screams coming from the gathering crowd.

"Harambe was most likely not going to separate himself from that child without seriously hurting him first (again due to mere size and strength, not malicious intent)," she explains.

On the topic of why the zoo didn't use tranquilizers, she responded: "Harambe would've taken too long to become immobilized, and could have really injured the child in the process."

Furthermore, she says, "Harambe would've drowned in the moat if immobilized in the water, and possibly fallen on the boy trapping him and drowning him as well."

She concludes her post by explaining how even though zoo enclosures are becoming increasingly unprotected in order to create a more natural and unimpeded view of the animals, "there should be no way that someone can find themselves inside of an animal's exhibit."

Another common target of netizens' fury was the child's mother, who many are criticising as 'negligent' and 'unfit to parent'.

In response, the mother decided to write a Facebook post saying how accidents can happen to anyone.

"As a society we are quick to judge how a parents could take their eyes off of their child. And if anyone knows me, I keep a tight watch on my kids," she says.

In conclusion, she wrote, "Accidents happen, but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today."