Harambe Illuminates Our Inherent Support For Animal Liberation

Everything that could be said about Harambe has already been said. (If you've somehow missed it, Harambe is the gorilla who was tragically shot dead at the Cincinnati Zoo after a small child climbed into his enclosure.)

Source: Cincinnati Zoo

Source: Cincinnati Zoo

I thought Wayne Pacelle nailed it when he said:

So, yes, let’s grieve for Harambe. Let’s recognize though that zoo officials took this action with extreme regret, and in crisis mode. And let’s all examine, as individuals and as a society, whether it’s okay to kill animals for utterly gratuitous purposes and with the knowledge that there are functionally equivalent or superior options available to us. The scenarios we confront every day of our lives are not lifeboat or runaway train scenarios. They involve clear moral choices and common sense and common decency.

This is an invitation to reflect on whether we can square away our grief for Harambe with our complicity in the killing of countless animals for food, research, textiles, and entertainment. If we are upset by an animal being killed under duress, how can we not be upset by other billions of other animals being needlessly killed?


Harambe (and Cecil, and many others before them) reveals that we are capable of empathizing with other animals, of grieving their loss, of acknowledging that unfair and unnecessary killing is upsetting. It reveals that as a species we value life. We don't want to cause harm to others and we understand that killing is a fundamental form of harm.

Animal liberation isn't extreme. It's simply the logical extension of our own values of compassion and justice.