In 1996 at an Illinois zoo, something extraordinary happened. A 3-year-old boy tumbled nearly 20 feet into a gorilla enclosure. However, this event had a different outcome compared to a similar one in Cincinnati over the weekend.
Binti Jua, an 8-year-old gorilla, became a global sensation by rescuing a boy who had wandered away from his mom and crossed a barrier at the Brookfield Zoo’s Western Lowland Gorilla Pit on August 19, 1996.
In a video, we see the boy on the ground, and Binti Jua gently picks him up, carrying him to a door where rescuers waited, with a crowd watching. There were six other gorillas in the exhibit during this incident.
Despite carrying her own 17-month-old baby, Koola, on her back, Binti Jua’s maternal instincts drove her to save the boy. The child suffered a broken hand and facial cuts, spending four days in the hospital. Interestingly, neither he nor his mother were ever identified.
Binti Jua, meaning “daughter of sunshine,” still resides at the zoo at 28 years old. She came to the Brookfield Zoo in February 1991 on a breeding loan from the San Francisco zoo.
Koola, Binti Jua’s companion, gave birth to her daughter, Nora, in August 2013 at the zoo.
Fast forward to recent events at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, where a 450-pound gorilla named Harambe was killed after grabbing a 3-year-old boy who entered the gorilla enclosure.
While Binti Jua was celebrated as a hero, 17-year-old Harambe met a tragic end, shot by a zoo employee as he held the boy between his legs. Zoo officials deemed it a difficult decision, emphasizing the danger posed by Harambe’s strength and agitation.
Western Lowland gorillas, an endangered species from central and west Africa, typically live around 35 years, as per National Geographic.