A former zookeeper who used to work directly with gorillas is getting a ton of attention on Facebook for her detailed yet simple analysis of the controversy surrounding the death of a gorilla at a Cincinnati zoo.
Amanda O'Donoughue, of Tallahassee, Florida, wrote on Facebook that she worked as a zookeeper in her twenties and worked closely with gorillas.
The large apes were her favorite animals to work with, she said.
However, she said even though she loves the "gentle giants," she never underestimated how dangerous they could be.
"A 400+ pound male in his prime is as strong as roughly 10 adult humans," she wrote. "What can you bench press? OK, now multiply that number by ten."
She wrote that because of her experience, she was bothered by the coverage of the death of Harambe, the gorilla who was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a child fell in his enclosure.
She decided to write out her thoughts on Facebook, explaining that she watched the footage of the incident and was horrified at the danger the child was in. She said that when she was a keeper, she was sure to never be "complacent."
"Gorillas are kind, curious, and sometimes silly, but they are also very large, very strong animals," she said. "I always brought my OCD to work with me. checking and rechecking locks to make sure my animals and I remained separated before entering to clean."
When she saw the video of the incident, O'Donoughue said she immediately knew the child was in grave danger.
She described the incident as "pretty much the stuff of any keeper's nightmares" because of the actions she observed in the ape.
"Harambe was most likely not going to separate himself from that child without seriously hurting him first," she said.
She concluded that a possible positive reaction to the controversy, rather than blaming the zoo or the parents, would be to examine the safety of zoo enclosures.
"Not impeding that view [of the animals] is a tough one, but there should be no way that someone can find themselves inside of an animal's exhibit," she said.
O'Donoughue's words resonated with many people, and her Facebook post has since been shared more than 1 million times. Many people said her analysis was spot-on.
"[The post] cleared so much as I was also under the impression the gorilla was trying to protect the boy," one commenter wrote. "I just can't fathom how the little boy was able to get into the enclosure."
O'Donoughue said on CNN's New Day that she thinks people can actually make a difference in honor of Harambe by "[putting] our anger and our efforts into conservation."
"Playing this blame game and this social media game is toxic, and I would like to see more people put their effort into actually helping critically endangered species like the western lowland gorilla," she said.
In a second Facebook post, O'Donoughue thanked everyone for the support and encouraged them to try to make a difference in the lives of the species.
"It starts with husbandry and ends with education," she said.
Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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