Quick to Listen/Episode 12 | 31 min

A Dead Gorilla Highlights Zoos' Bigger Problem

Animal welfare advocate Karen Swallow Prior discusses the complicated history of caging creatures.
A Dead Gorilla Highlights Zoos' Bigger Problem

Last Saturday, a four-year-old boy climbed the wall of the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla exhibit and tumbled into the moat. After Harambe, the zoo’s 17-year-old gorilla, dragged the boy through the water multiple times, a zookeeper shot and killed the animal. Over the weekend, the story provoked national speculation, fury, and sadness over parenting, zoos, and dead animals.

While zoo officials were right to kill Harambe to protect the toddler, the Bible is clear that animals have value, says Karen Swallow Prior, an English professor at Liberty University, and a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States.

“Let’s go back to Genesis and the Bible. Very clearly there is something that we as human beings share with animals, in terms of having animation, having a moving spirit,” said Prior. “We are made in God’s image, animals are not, but we still have the breath of life in us. God himself indicates in the Genesis account that there is a special relationship between humans and animals because God gives Adam the job of naming animals.”

Prior joined Morgan and Katelyn on Quick to Listen this week to talk about the history of zoos, if we should apply human emotions to animals, and whether animals go to heaven.

  • (6:50) What are the objects of the public’s love in this story?
  • (14:50) For many, this story pits animals against humans. Is that a false choice? Why do we prioritize the child’s life over the gorilla’s?
  • (21:20) What do zoos assume about the way the world should be?

Prior has frequently written for CT about animals

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A Dead Gorilla Highlights Zoos' Bigger Problem