Last week, the Internet lost its mind after zoo workers fatally shot a gorilla that had grabbed and dragged a 4-year-old boy who slipped into its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. People immediately began looking for someone to blame for the death of the gorilla—the zoo was a top contender, but the boy’s mother took the brunt of the outrage as many called her negligent and irresponsible. Criminal charges were considered and more than 450,000 people have signed an online petition seeking “Justice for Harambe,” which calls for the parents to be held accountable for “lack of supervision” and the child’s home situation to be investigated.
Another story that seemed to draw much less outrage (and news coverage) last week was the fact that more than 1,000 migrants died last week in attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy. The Wall Street Journal reports that 2,510 people have lost their lives on the journey across the Mediterranean this year, and that’s only the beginning. The death toll for migrants fleeing the violent chaos in their home countries for asylum in Europe is only expected to rise, as summer typically brings a spike in human trafficking.
It’s an understatement to say that the refugee crisis is complicated, but there has to be something more that world leaders, and even ordinary citizens, can do to help these people. Where’s the petition seeking justice for all the men, women and children who drowned after their unsuitable ships—some of which didn’t even have engines—capsized? Who’s holding these smugglers accountable for overcrowding vessels that aren’t even worthy to be on the water with hundreds of desperate people who will do anything for a better life?
Let’s stop freaking out about gorillas and maybe focus a bit more of our efforts on the thousands of people who are just trying to survive another day. Because while animals are important, human lives—whether they live on your side of the globe or not—are a lot more valuable.