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Flashback: Gorilla comforts boy who fell at zoo

Posted at 8:37 AM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 17:46:42-04

The debate continues to rage after a child fell inside the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo Saturday, but surprisingly, it’s not the first time this has happened.

In 1996, a 3-year-old boy climbed a railing and fell into the gorilla den at Brookfield Zoo, located outside of Chicago.

But that incident ended much differently. The gorilla, named Binti Jua, was labeled a heroine for picking up the unconscious boy and protecting him from the other animals. The boy made a full recovery.

Binti, who still lives at the Brookfield Zoo, was named Newsweek magazine’s Hero of the Year in 1996.

The 17-year-old Cincinnati gorilla named Harambe was killed Saturday after it dragged the 4-year-old boy.

Personnel from the zoo's dangerous animal response team decided to put down Harambe rather than tranquilize him because the boy was in danger and the tranquilizer would not have taken effect immediately, officials said.