The world is mourning the tragic death of a 17-year-old silverback gorilla named Harambe who was shot dead on May 28 to protect a toddler who fell into the enclosure.

The Dangerous Animal Response Team at Cincinnati Zoo opted to kill Harambe after he reportedly picked up and dragged the trapped 4-year-old boy.

Officials said the toddler had spent 10 to 15 minutes alone with the male gorilla, whose species is critically endangered, before the latter was gunned down.

The incident has since sparked global outrage, prompting online protests to grow on Facebook and Change.org. About 50 people gathered outside Cincinnati Zoo on Monday, May 30, to mourn for Harambe.

As of Tuesday, more than 146,000 people from different parts of the world have signed a Change.org petition to create a law that will impose legal consequences should there be negligence from zoo visitors. The regulation will be called "Harambe's Law."

What Is Harambe's Law?

Launched by Annie Gutierrez of Chicago, Illinois, the petition wants lawmakers to create and pass Harambe's law to make zoo visitors accountable for the well-being of endangered zoo animals.

The petition argues that the tragedy at Cincinnati Zoo could have been greatly avoided had the little boy been properly supervised.

Gutierrez says it is completely negligent for anyone to enter a restricted area or exhibit at a zoo, park or sanctuary. And so the new law would make the negligent party financially and criminally responsible for any harm or loss to an animal, particularly those that are critically endangered.

Another petition launched by Sheila Hurt places all the blame on the toddler's parents and even asks if the negligence was "reflective" of their situation at home. The petition, which is called "Justice for Harambe," currently has 412,000 supporters and counting.

Could The Incident Have Been Handled Better?

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says the enclosure where the gorilla stayed should have been surrounded by a secondary barrier between animals and humans to avoid this kind of incident.

Should the gorilla have been tranquilized instead of killed? Thane Maynard, director of the zoo, says the tranquilizer would not have taken effect as quickly as possible.

It was a "life-threatening" situation for the little boy, says Maynard. Although the boy was not under attack, all sorts of things could have happened and the boy was at risk, he says.

"The right choice was made," says Maynard. "It was a difficult choice."

In the meantime, Cincinnati Zoo will conduct its own investigations to find out how the toddler got into the enclosure. The gorilla exhibit at Cincinnati Zoo will remain closed until further notice.

A Brief Glimpse Into Harambe's Life

Harambe was one of the 10 western lowland silverback gorillas at Cincinnati Zoo. He was born and raised in captivity at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas by veteran Jerry Stones.

Stones, who is 74 years old and has been in the business for 50 years, says Harambe was a special guy in his life.

"An old man can cry, too," says Stones. "It's like losing a member of the family."

Harambe arrived in Cincinnati in 2015 and joined the group along with two 19-year-old female silverback gorillas named Mara and Chewie.

Maynard says there were hopes to breed Harambe, although he was not of breeding maturity yet. He says Harambe's death is "a loss to the gene pool of lowland gorillas."

The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has said that lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered. Disease and poaching have resulted in the drop of the species' population across central Africa. The group estimates thatf even if all threats were removed, it would take 75 years for the population to fully recover.

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