The reason you can keep a wild animal in a zoo without it constantly trying to jump out and murder visitors is that most animals are territorial. They are enclosed in a space that they can call their own, and as long as those borders are respected, they are happy to eat, frolic and mate for the entertainment of gawking onlookers.
But that territorial bubble was popped by a 3-year-old boy at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois — he was right over the gorilla enclosure when he fell over the fence. The 18-foot drop left him unconscious and with a critical head injury. Since gorillas can be dangerously persnickety with their territory, the police were barred from immediate action — who wants to see a violent battle between a SWAT team and a huge herd of gorillas? Except everyone?
So, with a child in need and no help in sight, Binti Jua stepped in. And as much as that sounds like Indian Superman, it wasn’t. Binti just happened to be one of the zoo’s gorillas.
Binti came to the boy’s aid by cradling him in her arms and then bringing him to the enclosure door, where paramedics could get to him. The police and staff were quick to note that without Binti’s assistance, the situation could have been much worse.
And in case you think we’re just misunderstanding the gorilla’s actions, it’s actually not an isolated incident. Back in the 1980s, another kid fell into a gorilla enclosure, at Jersey Zoo. That time, the gorilla was a male silverback who watched over the unconscious boy and led away the rest of his troop when paramedics arrived. One has to wonder if these gorillas are naturally empathetic to our young or if they just feel sorry for how stupid we apparently are.