Ron L. Kagan, executive director and chief executive officer of The Detroit Zoo, a leading institution for animal welfare, also weighed in. "Gorillas in general have no interest in being aggressive to a human child, but if you have a gorilla in a stressful situation, with people screaming, a gorilla could get disoriented and harm a child," Kagan told The Dodo. "But I doubt the gorilla had the intention to harm the child."
But Kagan cautioned that the compromises involved in conserving endangered species - such as breeding rare animals in captivity and making zoos available to visitors - are very complex, making this particular incident hard to judge from a distance. "I wasn't there and not being there just means you don't have all the info to work with," Kagan said. "It doesn't change the fact that it's an incredibly tragic outcome of a terrible accident."