The parents of the 4-year-old boy who fell 15 feet into a gorilla-exhibit moat at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday, resulting in the death of the 17-year-old silverback gorilla Harambe, are now the subject of intense scrutiny on social and online media.
Photos of the couple have been circulating online, and online publication the Daily Mail dredged up the criminal history of the young boy's father, who was not even at the zoo at the time of the incident.
According to the report, filings against the boy's father, Deonne Dickerson, 36, range from burglary and disorderly conduct to drug trafficking and kidnapping. However, the site notes, in recent years Dickerson seems to have "turned his life around" and dotes on his four children.
The site identifies the boy's mother, 32-year-old Michelle Gregg, as the administrator at a Cincinnati preschool. Gregg has notably borne the brunt of criticism ever since her son fell into the enclosure, with some social media users even suggesting that both Gregg and Dickerson should be held accountable in the accident. On Facebook, the hashtag #JusticeForHarambe is trending, with multiple groups bearing the same name popping up on the site. There is even a Change.org petition calling for the parents to be held responsible.
A spokesperson for the Cincinnati Police Department has said that charges aren't being considered for the couple, according to the Daily Mail.
Gregg reportedly turned to Facebook to write a post addressing the incident. In it she said that "accidents happen."
"I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers today. What started off as a wonderful day turned into a scary one," Gregg wrote in her post, according to the news site.
"For those of you that have seen the news or been on social media that was my son that fell in the gorilla exhibit at the zoo. God protected my child until the authorities were able to get to him. My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes … no broken bones or internal injuries," the Daily Mail reports her writing on Facebook. "As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today."
The family released an additional statement Sunday, thanking the zoo for its quick action and for making the difficult decision to put down the animal.
"We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff," the statement read, according to the Daily Mail. "We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla. We hope that you will respect our privacy at this time."
During a press conference Monday afternoon, Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard said that Harambe was "agitated," "disoriented" and "behaving erratically."
"This is an animal [that] with one hand I have seen take a coconut and crush it," he said, calling the situation "life-threatening."
"Looking back, we would make the same decision," Maynard added.
Read more at the Daily Mail.