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Animal expert Jeff Corwin: 'zoos aren't your baby sitter'

by: Jason Law Updated:

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BOSTON - There are still many questions after a little boy climbed into a gorilla exhibit in Cincinnati and lots of people are second guessing the decision to put the gorilla down – in order to save the child.

FOX25’s Jason Law spoke with local conservationist and television host Jeff Corwin about the tragedy in Cincinnati.

The cell phone video is hard to watch, especially if you’re a parent, and Corwin -- the father of two young girls -- says he can’t even sit through it all.

“That’s the million dollar question,” he said. “How did this little boy slip in this enclosure?”

There’s been a lot of second guessing, just days after Cincinnati Zoo officials put down the 400 pound gorilla in order to save the boy who fell into the enclosure.

Where were the boy’s parents? And could the zoo have used a tranquilizer instead of lethal force? 

The long-time television host says a tranquilizer dart wasn’t really an option.

“It can take some significant time before an animal is sedated -- as big as a 400 pound gorilla,” said Corwin. “It can take anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes. It may take multiple shots. I think that’s a risk they weren’t willing to take.”

Corwin says the lesson is for parents to treat zoos with the respect they deserve.

“Zoos aren’t your babysitter,” he said. “Take a break from the cell phone, the selfie stick and the texting. Connect with your children. Be responsible for your children. I don’t think this happened in seconds or minutes. I think this took time for this kid, this little boy to find himself in that situation. Ultimately it’s the gorilla that’s paid this price.”

Monday afternoon, we talked to parents outside the Franklin Park Zoo.

“First off, I don’t understand how you cannot pay attention to your children that’s falling off, so as a parent you should stay with your child,” nanny Lauren Van De Ven said.

“Obviously, if a gorilla was pulling my boy on the ground and obviously we know how strong gorillas are, I think it would be a tough decision to say they were in the wrong,” said Melrose resident James Gulden.

FOX25 did make several attempts to talk to Franklin Park Zoo officials to see if something like that could happen here, but we were told the offices were closed for the holiday.