On the morning of May 28, 2016, a three-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati zoo. This resulted in the fatal shooting of Harambe, the lowland gorilla that was near the child in the cage. This event took place on the gorilla’s seventeenth birthday.
So, the question we must ask ourselves is, “why did the millennial generation relate to this 450-pound primate on a level that one could only describe as spiritual?”

As the world stood by and watched the cover up stories be revealed, something within all of us was ignited. Growing up, a general sense of right and wrong is expected of us from the minute we can stand on two feet, and something about Harambe’s death didn’t feel right.

“Shooting Harambe with a tranquilizer was not an option,” a representative of the Cincinnati Zoo stated in a FAQ section on their website, “The child was in imminent danger.”

The footage of the incident was released shortly after the shooting, thanks to the smartphone-armed civilians, and the public quickly became their own judges. While most of the general population was quick to come to a conclusion.

Jane Goodall, a primatologist, said, “it looked as though the gorilla was putting an arm [around] the child.” In this statement Goodall is implying that he was not in fact trying to harm the child, but rather, to save him. According to study published in Scientific American, humans and gorillas share 98 per cent of the same genes (2014). So, if the genetic similarities are so common, why was it so hard to understand the primate’s intentions? Like a stranger would tend to someone in need, Harambe acted like any mammal would, with compassion. And it was followed by a bullet to the head.

What started out as a frat party theme and an excuse to take your shirt off, quickly turned into one of the biggest internal conflicts in our society today. The death of our friend Harambe made us all question why we sat back and let an institution tell us right from wrong. It sparked a nationwide conversation on why animals are constantly paying for the mistakes of humans with their lives. Harambe’s life and death will forever be remembered as the turning point for why asking questions is so important in the millennial generation.