Reminiscent of Steinbeck’s ‘Lennie’

Folks at the Cincinnati Zoo called gorilla Harambe “a good guy” and from the videos of him interacting with that little boy who fell into his pen Memorial Day weekend it sure seemed he was.
Yes, the gorilla roughly dragged the tyke through the shallow moat and most likely would have injured him, perhaps fatally. And, yes, the action taken to kill the rare gorilla in order to save the boy’s life undoubtedly and disturbingly was correct. But the behavior of the gorilla could not be characterized as aggressive. If anything, it appeared loving.
The gorilla, as seen in the video, seemed to caress the child as though he were a new playmate. He even appeared to be trying to shelter the little boy, as though the child had been entrusted to him.
The problem is this gorilla, or any gorilla for that matter, does not know its own strength. In showing affection for the child he may very well have killed him.
Watching the video accounts of the incident, I could not help but think of the John Steinbeck novel “Of Mice and Men.”
In the book, Lennie, a mentally challenged adult described as “a giant of a man,” loved to pet soft, living things, a mouse, a puppy, but sadly winds up petting them to death.
This is never Lenny’s intention. Indeed, quite the opposite. But it is the outcome nonetheless.
So, too, may have been the outcome with Harambe and the little boy. And the officials at the scene could not take that chance.
Much like Steinbeck’s novel, the real-life tale of the Cinicnnati Zoo is profoundly sad.

Ed Ackerman