Gorilla shot dead after boy falls into zoo enclosure

The silverback reportedly dragged the boy around the moat

Child falls into gorilla enclosure at zoo

A zoo gorilla has been shot dead after a four-year-old boy fell into its enclosure in Cincinnati.

The boy reportedly crawled through a fence and fell into a moat, where he was dragged around for 10 minutes by the 17-year-old gorilla, called Harambe.

See also: Two lions shot dead after naked man jumps into enclosure

See also: Zoo worker falls into gorilla enclosure and breaks leg

Harambe, a western lowland gorilla, was born in captivity in Texas and was moved to Cincinnati in 2014.

The zoo's dangerous animal response team decided the boy was in a "life-threatening situation" and that they needed to put the gorilla down, reports the Telegraph.

According to the Guardian, the child was in between the gorilla's legs when it was shot.

Zoo director Thane Maynard said that although the boy was not under attack he was "certainly at risk", adding that it was an "extremely strong animal" in an agitated situation.

According to the BBC, he said: "[The officials] made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy's life. It could have been very bad."

There has been outrage from animal rights campaigners, but Mr Maynard said a tranquilliser would not have worked quickly enough.

He added: "We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically-endangered gorilla. This is a huge loss for the zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide."

Back in 1986, a young boy called Levan Merritt fell into a gorilla enclosure in Jersey and lost consciousness.

A silverback gorilla called Jambo stood over him and protected him from the other gorillas until he came around.

He was then safely removed from the enclosure and Jambo became famous for his actions.