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White House: Shooting of gorilla a ‘tragedy’

Greg Nash

President Obama’s top spokesman on Wednesday called the shooting death of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo a “tragedy” but declined to say whether officials made the right decision in killing the animal.

{mosads}“There have been people across the country that have their own personal opinion about what may have contributed to what can legitimately be described as a tragedy,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One.

But Earnest said he is not aware of “any official position that I can articulate from the White House” on the incident, adding he hasn’t heard the president comment on it.

A 3-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo over the weekend, prompting zoo officials to shoot and kill the endangered Western lowland silverback in order to save the child.

The incident has sparked a national debate over whether it was appropriate to shoot at the 17-year-old gorilla. Local police are also investigating the actions of the parents of the young child, who managed to climb into the enclosure.

A division of the United States Department of Agriculture is also conducting a safety investigation of the zoo. But Earnest was apparently unaware of the probe, saying that “it’s not clear to me there is any federal role” in the incident.

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