The way I left the world was traumatizing for many, including myself in that moment. This young boy just appeared in my enclosure and I reacted in the best way I knew. I was an animal in captivity, accustomed to methodical human interaction, and here comes this little boy. He wasn’t really that afraid. I think he wanted to be closer to me, and why not, he is a curious child with a big heart.

Human visitors aren’t captive gorilla behavior experts and the onlookers were all reacting out of fear as opposed to the calmness us gorillas prefer. I was trying to bring the boy to safety. I wasn’t used to human legs and arms and joints. Your human young are so delicate. And remember, I was a male gorilla, not a female mother. I became anxious because of all the yelling and emphasis put on me. I was just in there, minding my own business, tolerating people staring at me all day long in a zoo environment with little stimulation.

It’s a shame I had to lose my life in that way, but at the end of the day my life was in the hands of humanity and that is how it ended, too. It isn’t as though regrets would be beneficial to anyone. My desire is that we all learn from that day. There will always be a soul connection between me and that young boy, he was the one person that day that brought me peace. It was amazing to see him, be close to him, have someone new and youthful to really interact with, albeit briefly.

Kristen Houser