Teacher Intentionally Put Students Into Gorilla Cage With Gorilla

I  am shaken up by the  killing of  innocent  Harambe, the  gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. I am also  angry at the negligent parents, who according to witnesses,  let their child run wild and  who, smilingly  and cavalierly told the press “accidents happen.”  It was not news to them that their child was rambunctious. That is why they needed to be even more vigilant  This disturbing incident  bothers me so much becuase it personally  hits close to home for me. I too was in a gorilla cage with a gorilla. I wasn’t there because I fell  into the cage like the little 4 year old boy. Instead, I was in a cage with a gorilla becaused  I was forced  into the cage   by my high school journalism teacher , the late  Marlene  E. Adams.

This woman had the audacity to put  me and 25 of my fellow  15 and 16 year old students into a very upset gorilla’s cage at the Crandon Park Zoo. Why did she do it? It was because she thought it would make a creative photo for the yearbook.

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This is the actual  gorilla, who  was in the back of the cage at the Crandon Park Zoo , where he and  my fellow students wete  only separated by a metal partition which you can see below. The partition is to the  far right of the photo. It had  vents at the top, so that the gorilla could breathe and get air. In back of that partition was a very angry gorilla  banging his hands and making screeching noises as students entered the cage and as they posed for a group photograph.


The photo above and in the photo below is the actual cage that I was in with 25 of my fellow students. ‘I didn’t want to show a group shot which would reveal  all of  the students identities  in the cage because of privacy concerns and out of  respect for  many of the students who may even look exactly the same decades later  and who may not appreciate that their photo  appearing  publicly showing them  in a gorilla cage. 


The hand to the left  of the photo above is  that of Mrs. Marlene E. Adam’s, guiding the photo shoot and instructing students what to do while in the cage.Below is a photo of  Mrs. Adams ( from her Facebook page)  as I remembered her .

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Mrs. Adams’ idea for our being in the gorilla cage  was her  attempt at being clever and creative  and  illustrating  the  “infinite monkey theorem”  which states that a monkey hitting keys at random  on a typewriter keyboard  for an infinite amount of time will almost surely  type a given text, such as the complete works of  William Shakespeare. That’s why she directed some of the students to hold typewriters in the monkey cage as you can see  in the photo above Mrs.Adams.

You can get an idea of  how it was to be in that cage. What strikes  me now is how terribly small that cage was. There was no habitat back then. There was no grass or rocks or trees.  The gorilla couldn’t roam around  and get a change of scenery. Instead, the gorilla was  essentially  confined to a small jail cell. The  gorilla was there  so  that people could walk by and gawk at him. As I look back at this photo  and think of how cruel it was that the gorilla was  in such a  small cell adds insult to injury.

At the time this incident happened, my fellow  15 and 16 year old students were just told to show up at the Crandon Park Zoo’ Gorilla Cage  on a Saturday  morning.  We just thought we would simply be standing in front of the Gorilla Cage and have our photo taken. WE had no idea that we would be going inside the gorilla’s cage.

As the zookeeper opened a Gorilla Cage,  Mrs. Adams told us all  to get into the  cage. I  was shocked and appalled and refused to get in. I could hear the gorilla  banging in the back of the cage, The only thing separating the gorilla from the students was a thin metal sliding partition. As the students entered the cage, the gorilla banged louder and louder on the metal partition. He got angrier and angrier and louder and louder.

I  refused to  follow the other students into the cage. Even at 16,  I  instinctively thought it was wrong to upset this poor  gorilla by having unfamiliar people in his  cage. When I heard him banging  in the back of the cage, I was so scared that he would break loose and attack everyone  (and rightfully so). I wouldn’t blame him as his territory was being invaded by many unwelcome guests.

When I shared my concerns with Mrs. Adams, she said I was being silly and proceeded to  humiliate me to get into the cage, even threatening to take away my coveted yearbook position for the upcoming year if I didn’t get into the cage and stop everyone’s wasting time.  I  asked if  I could  be photographed  standing outside of the cage, but she  wouldn’t hear of it. In fact she yelled at me to get into the cage and  told me to stop acting like  a prima donna and to stop holding everybody up as she insisted I just get into the cage.

The Zookeeper  also told me that  there was nothing to fear as he escorted me into the cage since  I was the last person to enter. Reluctantly,  I walked into the cage but stood right near the door of the cage, way at the back  so that I could be the first to escape should  the gorilla break through the metal partition and get loose.

It was awful to be  in that cage and I felt like to cry the entire time the photos were being snapped. In fact the look on my face is sad,  upset and disgisted. It smelled terrible in there and there was fruit all over the cement floor.


One student  in the group found the gorilla’s banana and held it up for the photo as you can see in the photo above ( the photo is on the side). While Mrs. Adams encouraged his holding the gorilla’s banana,  I  immediately  let him know that  I thought it wasn’t a good idea to touch the gorilla’s banana  because  now the gorilla couldn’t eat it after it had a stranger’s human scent on it.


Another student  grabbed on to the gorilla’s chain  with his human hands as you can see in the photo above to the left. This was the  chain where there was a tire attached, which  allowed  the gorilla to swing. All I kept thinking about during the photo shoot was I  how awful the poor  gorilla would feel after 25 or so  humans with their human smells touched his belongings and invaded his cage. I certainly wouldn’t like it if 25 gorillas came into my home without permission and invaded my personal space.

I  was the last to get into the cage and the  first one out of the cage.I  couldn’t get out of the cage fast enough.  As soon as the photoshoot  was over I sped home,  took of my clothes, threw them into the hamper and  ran into the shower to wash off the Gorilla smell.

Wondering  why I seemed so upset and puzzled why I had taken a shower right after  I walked into the house,  my parents asked me what was going on. I shared with  them how Mrs. Adams forced me  and the the students to get into a gorilla cage to take a photo for the yearbook. Needless to say, they were shocked and  appalled that a teacher would put student’s lives in jeopardy by putting them in a age with an angry  almost half a ton gorilla. They  were thankful that I was OK and survived this ordeal. But they were also  very upset with Mrs. Adams.

I put this upsetting incident from high school behind me. But whenever I  thought about it, it filled me with anxiety when I thought of what COULD have happened. It wasn’t until this incident with Harambe and this little boy that my feeling of sadness and anxiety about my being in a gorilla cage -me,  a 16 year old girl with a promising future ahead of her, resurfaced.

What would have happened if the gorilla broke through the partition and tried to harm one of the teenagers in the cage? What if he tried to harm me as I tried to run out of his cage?

Unlike Harambe who  realized this was a child who was suddenly in his cage and needed protection, in my case the gorilla  would have been furious that such a large group entered his domain and would have acted accordingly- most likely with violence. He would have seen 25 unfamiliar people and  most likely he would have lashed out in anger as a means of protecting himself and his territory. Someone could have easily been killed.

Perhaps the gorilla  at the Crandon Park Zoo would have been shot to save the rest of the students or even me. Had that happened I would  not only have been  devastated that a student was harmed, but equally as devastated that  the innocent  gorilla would have been sacrificed simply because some irresponsible teacher made us enter his domain.

My anger is at Mrs. Adams, who died a few years ago.  I wish she was alive  today so that  I could tell her just how irresponsible she was in putting the lives of 25 teenagers in jeopardy. In this day an age, Mrs. Adams would have lost her teaching credentials and could have easily  been sued by students  and their parents as she did not have the parent’s permission to put their children into a gorilla cage. The Zookeeper, who was no doubt seduced by Mrs. Adam’s  persuasive ways by allowing the photoshoot to be  done for the sake of art and creativity,  would have been fired for his lack of good  judgement, He  along with the Crandon Park Zoo could have been sued as well.

After all these decades , the  trauma  and the anxiety of the incident of me in a cage with an angry gorilla  in the back of his own cage,  pounding  his fists on a metal partition and possibly breaking through the partition, and  potentially attacking  the teenage invaders in anger  because they  dominated his cage ( and rightfully so) has  resurfaced  for me when I herd of  the little boy falling into the cage.

I hold the child’s  negligent parents responsible , just as I completely put blame on   the late Mrs. Marlene E. Adams for her negligence and irresponsible behavior in putting the lives of  15  and 16 year old children in jeopardy, including my own life. It is ironic  that Mrs. Adams was  a member of MENSA, a society for those who have a high IQ yet she didn’t  seem to have the  common sense or  a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient).  to stop herself from putting so many young lives at risk.



















One thought on “Teacher Intentionally Put Students Into Gorilla Cage With Gorilla

  1. It is now 05 July 2016 & I just read this. Oh my goodness, what a traumatizing experience for the students & the gorilla. For you to say so much in this article shows how deeply you were affected by this. 😦 Pam, El Paso TX


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