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'All parents make mistakes': Moms call for empathy in gorilla-shooting incident

In the midst of outrage about the death of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, some moms are standing up to say accidents can happen to anyone.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

While #justiceforharambe may be trending on social media, many moms are protesting the mom-judging of the mother of the toddler who fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo this weekend, causing a 17-year-old gorilla to be shot and killed by zoo officials.

“I’m straight up exhausted by the internet’s love for hating on parents, and let’s be honest, it’s almost always the moms,” said Brenna Jennings of Suburban Snapshots, who published a blog this weekend titled, “Any one of us could be the Cincinnati Zoo mom.

In the post, Jennings describes a time when her own daughter disappeared for a moment on an outing to the zoo, getting out of a wagon and walking off in the short time it took for Jennings to hug a friend goodbye.

“What I wanted to get people to stop and think about were all the times they had a slip, and to recognize that any of our own events could have ended badly — that we just got lucky,” Jennings told TODAY parents.

Danielle Murray, who vlogs with her family on their YouTube channel, published a vlog over the weekend where she calls for compassion to be shown to the boy’s mother, and admits that a situation like this could easily have happened to her — or any parent.

“I watch my kids very closely, but I’m not so naïve to believe that this couldn’t happen to us,” said Murray. “When your child lets go of your hand and darts out into the street, you pray that a car isn’t coming. But when one does come and when there is a tragedy, the last thing that should be happening is blame.”

“A child behaving like a child does not mean the parent is negligent,” Murray continued. “I hope that all of the people out there who think they are somehow exempt from accident or tragedy will reconsider that.”

Jenny Rapson, editor of For Every Mom, shared her thoughts this weekend in an article that also outlined a Facebook post written by an alleged eyewitness of the incident. Both Rapson’s take on the incident and the eyewitness account claim that the accident was not the mother’s fault.

Rapson, who lives in Ohio, says she was a chaperone on a field trip to the Cincinnati Zoo a few weeks ago, and felt nervous about keeping the children in her group away from the gorilla enclosure, as the barriers “weren’t all that restrictive.”

“I was fortunate that (none of the children) had any interest in getting up close and personal with a gorilla,” said Rapson. “The main reason I wanted to defend (this mom) however, is because all parents make mistakes and we all need grace and compassion… I feel like on the internet these days, parent-shaming is almost a sport. People enjoy it way, way too much, and to be honest, it frightens me.”

“I do believe the gorilla’s death is a tragedy, and it does sadden me greatly,” said Rapson. “But the loss of a child would have been a much bigger tragedy and the vilification of his mother is a tragedy in my eyes as well.”

Kara Carrero, who hosts the Extremely Good Parenting Podcast, wrote an emotional open letter to the boy’s mother on her blog.

“I wish there were easy answers for you and for your family and I know this incident will haunt you for the rest of your life,” Carrero wrote in the post. “But I pray you find peace, that you rise above the hate and don’t fall victim to the world’s sharp tongue, and that your family will survive the weeks that seem like you are in the spotlight.”

“I am not exactly sure where I stand in terms of whether she should be held responsible or not,” Carrero told TODAY Parents. “However, I wanted to write her a heartfelt letter because I had seen so much hate sent in her direction. I think there were failures from all sides, and the decision to pull the trigger was not hers.”