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Scoop: Accident, gorilla death at Ohio zoo spark outcry

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A vigil for the gorilla Harambe, who was killed after a youngster fell into the animal’s enclosure, took place outside the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden on Monday. (AP/John Minchillo)

A 3-year-old boy who somehow got into an enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo is happily safe, but the 17-year-old gorilla he encountered was shot dead — and the Internet has blown up about it.

On Monday, it wasn’t a riot, but dozens held a vigil at the zoo to remember Harambe, a male western lowland gorilla who was killed Saturday by a response team that feared the boy’s life was in danger.

Captivating videos online taken by zoo visitors offer varying glimpses of the scene. In some, the gorilla appears to be protective of the boy. But he also can be seen dragging the child through the shallow moat. The incident lasted about 10 minutes.

Anthony Seta, an animal rights activist in Cincinnati, called the death “a senseless tragedy” but said the purpose of vigil wasn’t to point fingers but to pay tribute to Harambe, who turned 17 the day before he was shot, the Associated Press reported.

Kim O’Connor, who witnessed the boy’s fall, has said she heard the youngster say he wanted to get in the water with the gorillas. She said the boy’s mother was with several other young children.

The boy got into the enclosure by going under a rail, through wires and over a moat wall, according to the zoo, CNN reported.

In the days since, people voiced outrage about the killing of an animal who is an endangered species. A Facebook page called “Justice for Harambe” was created, along with online petitions and another page calling for a June 5 protest at the zoo.

The zoo’s director, Thane Maynard, said its dangerous-animal response team, consisting of full-time animal keepers, veterinarians and security staff, made the right call to kill the gorilla. He noted that the 400-pound-plus gorilla didn’t appear to be attacking the child but was in an “agitated situation” and was “extremely strong.” A tranquilizer wouldn’t have immediately felled the gorilla, leaving the child in danger.

On Monday, he said the zoo had received messages of support and condolences from around the world. He said visitors left flowers at the gorilla exhibit and asked how they could support gorilla conservation.

“This is very emotional and people have expressed different feelings,” Maynard said by email. “Not everyone shares the same opinion and that’s OK. But we all share the love for animals.”

The boy was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and released hours after the fall. His parents said in a statement Sunday that he was “doing just fine.”

A Cincinnati police spokesman said no charges were being considered, despite social media comments calling for action against the parents.

ROOTS REBOOT

The time has come for the remake of “Roots.”

The saga of author Alex Haley tracing his ancestral roots to a young African boy kidnapped and sold into slavery was a phenomenon when it aired on ABC in 1977, and the power of the brand kept Mark Wolper (son of original “Roots” producer David L. Wolper who inherited the rights from his late father) to resist making a new version.

His mind changed because he couldn’t get his is 16-year-old son to watch the original version.

The result is a four-night, eight-hour miniseries, which premiered Monday on the History channel. Positioned as a “re-imagining” of Haley’s story, the new “Roots” is a more extensive, historically accurate account of Mandinka warrior-turned-slave Kunta Kinte and the trajectory of his family’s story through American history.
LeVar Burton, who played the young Kunta Kinte in the original, is co-executive producer of new “Roots.” After initial hesitancy about the project, he sees himself as “the keeper of the spiritual flame” between the old and the new.

The cast of the new “Roots” includes Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Unlike the original, one actor _ London-born Malachi Kirby _ plays Kinte both as a youth and an adult.

“I was very aware of the original _ I watched it several years ago and it impacted me greatly,” said the soft-spoken 26-year-old Kirby. “I felt a huge weight when I got the part, because I was scared of getting it wrong and how the retelling would affect those who had seen the original, positively or negatively.”

Fans will see familiar touchstones in the new “Roots,” including a scene when Kinte’s father, Omoro (Babs Olusanmokun), holds the infant Kunta up to the heavens and proclaims, “Behold the only thing greater than yourself!”
But much is different in the retelling. More time is spent detailing the educated culture of the Mandinka people of Gambia where Kinte’s family lived.

In the ABC version, the young warrior Kinte is captured by white slave traders. In this “Roots,” Kinte is ambushed by a rival tribe and sold to slave traders.

Nancy Dubuc, president of A+E Networks, which oversees History, said this “Roots” is more complex and detailed than the first edition. (The new series will be shown on A+E and Lifetime as well as History.)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Rapper Azealia Banks is 25. … S.F. Giant Jake Peavy is 35. … Actor Colin Farrell is 40. … Actress Brooke Shields is 51. … Rapper DMC of Run-DMC is 52. … Actress Lea Thompson is 55. … Comedian Chris Elliott is 56 … Actor Tom Berenger is 66. … Actress Sharon Gless is 73. … Football player Joe Namath is 73. … Singer Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary is 78. … Actor-director Clint Eastwood is 86.

— Wire report

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