Few things can inspire the kind of fear that Michelle Gregg felt last weekend when a 450 lb. western lowland silverback gorilla dragged her 3-year-old son around his habitat for more than 10 minutes, before being shot down by zoo employees. The frightened mother called 911 to report the incident, prior to intervention by the zoo-keepers. “He’s dragging my son! I can’t watch this, I cannot. I can’t watch”, Gregg said to the 911 dispatcher.
The mother called 911, after deciding that it would be the fastest way to notify the zoo officials to rescue her toddler from the imminent danger:
“Hi. My son fell in the zoo at the gorillas… The Cincinnati Zoo, my son fell in with the gorilla. There’s a male gorilla standing over him. I need someone to contact the zoo, please.”
After another zoo visitor and the mother called 911, the 911 dispatcher informed her that help was on the way. Meanwhile, Gregg could be heard over the call as she called down to her son, saying “be calm, be calm! Be calm, be calm”, as Harambe (the silverback gorilla) stood the child up, looked at him, and tugged his pants up.
However, as Harambe dragged the 3-year old through the moat water, Gregg’s fear peaked, exclaimed “I need to call my dad”, and the call disconnects only 49 seconds after starting. Deidre Lykins stated that she saw the boy while in the gorilla habitat, but was unsure of how he got there. Lykins also reported that she heard when the boy’s mother called 911 and kept screaming, “that’s my baby, that’s my baby!”
Lykins reported that the gorilla continued to drag the boy violently through the water, while the boy periodically began crying. “If you had seen the gorilla dragging this baby with his little precious face… Just bouncing off the rocks, he just looked lifeless. We did not leave the zoo until we know that little boy was okay”, said Lykins. The boy’s mother said in a statement Wednesday that he “is still doing well”, following a checkup with his physician.