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Gorilla killed at US zoo after seizing toddler

Zoo workers in the US city of Cincinnati have shot and killed a gorilla after a 4-year-old boy fell into its enclosure. Officials say it was not feasible to tranquilize the 180-kilogram (400-pound) ape.

A zoo response team shot and killed a 17-year-old gorilla Saturday that had grabbed and dragged a toddler who had fallen into the gorilla's enclosure, officials at the Cincinnati zoo said.

"They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy's life," zoo director Thane Maynard told reporters. "It could have been very bad."

The incident was reported at around 4 p.m. Saturday. The area around the gorilla exhibit was closed off Saturday afternoon as zoo visitors reported hearing screaming.

Witnesses said the gorilla dragged the screaming boy around the habitat for about 10 minutes before the zoo workers opened fire. The male gorilla was an endangered silverback named Harambe that had been brought to the Cincinnati zoo last year from a zoo in Texas.

The zoo says the Gorilla World area would be open as usual on Sunday as the exhibit is not considered unsafe. The director says the zoo is still investigating how the young child fell into the enclosure, but zoo workers believe the boy crawled through a railing barrier, then fell about 3 meters (10 feet) into the enclosure's moat.

Maynard said it was the first time that a zoo animal had to be killed in an emergency situation, and he called it "a very sad day" at the zoo.

Hospital officials said they couldn't release any information on the condition of the child.

Authorities have not released the child's name.

jar/gsw (AP, AFP)

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