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Cincinnati police investigating parent's role in zoo incident

By Shawn Price
Cincinnati police investigating parent's role in zoo incident
The family of the boy who slipped past multiple barriers and fell into the moat of the Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla compound is now being investigated, Cincinnati police said Tuesday. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are also investigating the incident. Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens

CINCINNATI, June 1 (UPI) -- The family of a boy who slipped past barriers and fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo resulting in the death of a gorilla are being investigated, police said Tuesday.

The incident spurred outrage across the country after zoo keepers were decided to shoot and kill a male gorilla -- a member of the critically endangered Western lowland gorilla species -- to protect the boy. Though the boy received a concussion and was briefly dragged through the moat surrounding the zoo's gorilla compound, he was unharmed.

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Cincinnati police said in a statement their investigation is due dilligence and "is only regarding the actions of the parents/family that led up to the incident and not related to the operation or safety of the Cincinnati Zoo.

"After the review, we will determine if charges need to be brought forward," police spokeswoman Tiffaney Hardy said. "If it is determined charges need to be brought forward, we would then discuss it with the Hamilton County prosecutor's office."

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In the police report, witnesses said the boy climbed up and over a 3-foot-tall fence, then went through bushes that act as secondary barrier for visitors. The boy then fell about 15 feet into the shallow water of the moat and "proceeded to play in the water."

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A spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, an accrediting agency, announced it is also investigating the incident "so it doesn't happen again."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, responsible for inspecting the zoo each year, said it is investigating if the zoo was in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, according to Public Affairs Specialist Tanya Espinosa.

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CNN reported nine findings in USDA records from the past three years when the Cincinnati Zoo was out of compliance with the act, but none of the incidences involved the gorilla compound. Of the nine violations, two involved the health or wellness of animals.

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