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Donald Trump Defends Cincinnati Zoo's Shooting of Harambe the Gorilla

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at Trump Tower where he addressed issues about the money he pledged to donate to veterans groups following a skipped a debate in January before the Iowa caucuses on May 31, 2016 in New York City. Trump had previously said he had raised $6 million at the nationally broadcast fund-raiser he attended instead of the debate and that he would donate it all to veterans groups. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Spencer Platt—Getty Images

"It just takes one little flick of his finger, and I will tell you they probably had no choice"

Eliana Dockterman is a culture writer for TIME in New York City.

Donald Trump weighed in on the shooting of Harambe the Gorilla on Tuesday, defending the Cincinnati Zoo’s choice to end the gorilla’s life after a three-year-old boy got into the animal’s enclosure Saturday.

“I think it’s a very tough call. It’s amazing because there were moments with the gorilla the way he held that child it was almost like a mother holding a baby. It looked so beautiful and calm. And then there were moments where it looked pretty dangerous,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said. “I don’t think they had a choice. I mean, probably they didn’t have a choice. You have a child, a young child who’s at stake, and it’s too bad there wasn’t another way.”

The rare, 420-lb. gorilla was shot by zoo officials after he dragged the boy around the enclosure. The boy escaped with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The shooting sparked an uproar on social media, with some arguing that there was no need to shoot Harambe and others claiming it was a split-second decision that likely saved the young boy’s life. Zoo officials have said that tranquilizer darts take time to kick in, and using one could have scared the gorilla and made him injure the boy.

“It just takes one second. It just takes one little flick of his finger, and I will tell you they probably had no choice,” Trump added.

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