Gorilla Shooting Sparks Memory of Infamous Brookfield Zoo Incident

A gorilla named Binti Jua drew national attention when she cradled a young boy who had fallen into the gorilla enclosure in 1996

A gorilla was shot dead Saturday at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 4-year-old boy fell into its enclosure, sparking confusion and outrage over what the zoo called a "tragic accident."

Many animal lovers took to social media to express frustration over what they saw as the unnecessary death of the 17-year-old male gorilla named Harambe. 

For some, the incident inspired a recollection of a similar situation with a very different outcome at the Brookfield Zoo several years prior. 

Many Chicagoans remember that on Aug. 16, 1996, a small boy climbed a railing and fell 18 feet into the gorilla den at the Brookfield Zoo.

An 8-year-old female gorilla named Binti Jua made national headlines when she picked up the unconscious boy and protected him from the other primates. The act of kindness came as a surprise to many of the guests who said they feared Binti Jua would maul the 3-year-old. 

The boy, whose identity was never released, made a full recovery, and Binti Jua's heroic deed caught on camera gained her national attention. Binti was named Newsweek's Hero of the Year and one of People magazine's most intriguing people of 1996.

Binti Jua, now 28, still resides at Brookfield Zoo. 

Cincinnati Fire officials said that first responders on the scene of Saturday's incident saw the gorilla "dragging and throwing the child," in stark contrast to the now-famous rescue nearly 20 years ago.

The 4-year-old boy was in the enclosure for more than 10 minutes before he was rescued and brought to Cincinnati Children's Hospital in serious condition, officials said.

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