Family of Toddler Who Fell in Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla Enclosure Thanks Zookeepers

Kim O'Connor(CINCINNATI) — The family of the toddler who fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo said their child is “doing well” and thanked zookeepers who fatally shot an endangered gorilla in order to rescue the 3-year-old boy.

“Our child has had a checkup by his doctor and is still doing well. We continue to praise God for His grace and mercy, and to be thankful to the Cincinnati Zoo for their actions taken to protect our child,” the family said in a statement to ABC News Wednesday.

The boy fell 15 feet into about 18 inches of water in the animal’s enclosure after crawling over a stainless steel barrier Saturday. Harambe, a 17-year-old silverback gorilla, was “six times stronger than a man” and acting “erratically” when he was shot and killed with the young child between his legs, said Thane Maynard, the director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

The family, which continues to decline all interview and meeting requests, said those who wish to offer them gifts should instead donate to the Cincinnati Zoo in memory of the 450-pound gorilla, who was nicknamed Handsome Harambe by zookeepers for his good looks.

“We are also very appreciative for the expressions of concern and support that have been sent to us. Some have offered money to the family, which we do not want and will not accept. If anyone wishes to make a gift, we recommend a donation to the Cincinnati Zoo in Harambe’s name,” the family said in a statement to ABC News Wednesday.

The incident has struck national outrage from animal rights activists as well as citizens concerned about zoo safety. Prosecutors from Hamilton County, Ohio, said the Cincinnati Police Department will look into the incident for possible criminal charges.

"The incident at the Cincinnati Zoo involving the young child who fell into the gorilla enclosure is under investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters said in a statement Tuesday. "Once their investigation is concluded, they will confer with our office on possible criminal charges. When the investigation and review are complete, we will update the media."

In a later statement, the police department said that its review "is only regarding the actions of the parents-family that led up to the incident and not related to the operation or safety of the Cincinnati Zoo."

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums said it will also conduct a probe into the shooting death of Harambe. The AZA will request a report from the zoo, which will be reviewed by the accreditation commission, spokesman Rob Vernon said.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfires

California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfiresGoogle Earth(NEW YORK) -- Ravaged by a slew of deadly wildfires in recent days, northern California is set to get a bit of relief this week in the form of rain.

A storm system is expected to move over the Pacific Northwest later this week and the trailing cold front will most likely bring some much-needed rain to northern California between Thursday and Friday, according to ABC meteorologists.

"It will rain a bit but not enough to fully douse the blazes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said in a statement Tuesday. "The biggest advantage to firefighters will be the increase in humidity and lower temperatures."

Massive wildfires have charred more than 245,000 acres of land statewide in the past week, killing at least 41 people and destroying thousands of homes, according to authorities.

Firefighters were battling about a dozen wildfires as of late Tuesday evening, although most of them were more than halfway contained.

“The weather today will be warm with low humidity, which will continue to challenge firefighters, but only light winds are forecast,” CalFire said in a statement on Tuesday. “A chance of precipitation is expected to arrive later in the week, bringing relief from the dry conditions.”

The northern parts of the Golden State, which has bared the brunt of the fire damage, is forecast to see an influx of cloudy, cooler and wetter weather later in the week, according to AccuWeather.

Spotter from Los Osos was reporting sprinkles from this high level moisture. Dry at lower levels. Rain evaporates. Also called "Virga" #cawx

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 18, 2017

However, a return of dry air, heat and areas of gusty winds could once again raise the wildfire danger early next week, meteorologists said.

Separately, a band of moisture, referred to as Atmospheric River by weather experts, is currently stretching between Asia and North America. It’s expected to bring several storm systems into many parts of the Pacific Northwest through the rest of the week.

The first of these storms have already hit the Pacific Northwest with wind gusts of between 40 and 74 mph.

A number of wind warnings and flood watches are in effect in the western and northern parts of the U.S. ahead of the storm.

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