Police release 911 calls from gorilla incident

Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 21:33:02-04

CINCINNATI – Emergency calls from witnesses reporting a boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo Saturday shed some light on the 10 minutes officials have said the boy spent there before he was rescued.

The calls, which officials released Wednesday, detail the time not shown in a video shot by an onlooker. Many who viewed that video, in which the gorilla appears protective of the boy, criticized the zoo’s decision to shoot the gorilla, 17-year-old Harambe. 

“Hurry! The gorillas are out,” one caller said.

The boy’s mother also called 911 to report the incident.

“My son fell in with the gorilla,” she said. “There’s a male gorilla standing over him.”

The mom’s words to her son in the moat 15 feet below were also audible.

“Be calm, be calm, be calm,” she called down to the boy.

Another caller tried to tell the other onlookers to be quiet.

“Everybody’s screaming,” she told the 911 dispatcher.

“You’re riling him up,” she warned the onlookers.

She also described what happened before the much-viewed video.

“The baby is still in the water and the gorilla had it … it slammed it against the wall earlier,” she said.

Her narration also continued after the video ended. Harambe carried the boy up out of the moat.

“He’s got the baby and he’s still alive, but he’s dragging him from one end to the other,” she said.

A zoo employee who called said he thought the zoo’s “tranq team” was sent out. After several minutes, he reported that the child was safe. He couldn’t answer the 911 dispatcher’s question of whether the gorilla had been tranquilized.