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What happened when a little boy fell into the gorilla pit at an Illinois zoo in 1996

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What happened when a little boy fell into the gorilla pit at an Illinois zoo in 1996

BROOKFIELD, Ill — Saturday’s incident involving a little boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden may sound like a familiar story. In 1996, the amazing rescue of a little boy who fell into the ape enclosure at the Brookfield Zoo was caught on camera and shared with WGN-TV.

A female gorilla named Binti Jua made headlines around the world when she cradled the 3-year-old boy who fell nearly 20 feet into her enclosure.

On August 19, 1996, the boy, whose name was never released publicly, slipped away from his mother and climbed through a barrier at the Western Lowland Gorilla Pit at the Brookfield Zoo.

Stunned spectators and employees looked on as Binti Jua, who was 8 years old at the time, picked up the child’s lifeless body and cradled him for several minutes and then carried him to safety. Zoo workers who witnessed the rescue say it was an image they will never forget. Binti Jua carried her own baby, 17-month-old Koola, on her back during the entire ordeal.
She quickly showed her maternal instincts. One on-looker recorded video of the rescue and that video was seen around the world. Binta Jua quickly became a Hometown Hero and an international sensation. She continues to live at the Brookfield Zoo.The boy suffered a broken hand and cuts to his face. He spent four days in the hospital and recovered fully.

Click here to read more about what happened to Harambe, the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla who was shot and killed Saturday.

Shortly after zookeepers killed the rare gorilla to save a boy who had entered its enclosure, many are questioning whether death was the only option.

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