Video of the events leading up to the shooting dead of Harambe the gorilla has led some to suggest the animal was actually trying to protect the four-year old who fell into his enclosure.
Brittany Nicely, who was visiting Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday when the incident happened, has suggested the silverback was simply trying to shield the boy from the large and noisy crowd that had gathered.
She said: "Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the little boy in the bushes past the little fence area. I tried to grab for him. I started yelling at him to come back.
"Everybody started screaming and going crazy. It happened so fast.
"The gorilla was not, in my eyes being harmful."
Footage of the incident shows Harambe appearing to shield the child, thought to be called Isaiah.
But the precariousness of situation and the strength of the gorilla quickly becomes apparent when the boy is dragged through the water in the enclosure.
He said: "Looking back, we would make the same decision to shoot the gorilla."
Maynard previously said the gorilla did not appear to be attacking the child, but he said the animal was “extremely strong” and in an agitated situation.
He said tranquilising the gorilla would not have knocked him out immediately, leaving the boy in danger.
Jack Hanna, host of "Jack Hanna's Into the Wild," said the zoo made the right call by shooting the gorilla. Hanna said he saw video of the gorilla jerking the boy through the water and knew what would happen if the animal wasn't killed.
"I'll bet my life on this, that child would not be here today," Hanna told WBNS-TV.
Others have disagreed with the course of action taken. Field biologist and chairman of the The Gorilla Organization, Ian Redmond, said shooting was not necessary.
He said: "When gorilla or other apes have things they shouldn't have, keepers will negotiate with them, bring food, their favourite treats, pineapple or some kind of fruit that they don't know and negotiate with them.
"I don't know if that was tried or people thought there was too much danger but it does seem very unfortunate that a lethal shot was required."
The incident has sparked worldwide anger and a petition to hold the parent’s of the child responsible for the death of the 17-year-old gorilla was launched.
A woman claiming to be the mother, Michelle Gregg, defended herself on social media.
She said: “As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child. If anyone knows me, I keep a tight watch on my kids.
“Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.
“What started off as a wonderful day turned into a scary one. God protected my child.”
The child suffered concussion and “a few scrapes”.
The petition was launched around 5pm Sunday. A Facebook page, Justice for Harambe, was also started and has over 100,000 Likes.
The petition detailed what led to the shooting, before laying the blame on the child’s parents.
It reads: “This beautiful gorilla lost his life because the boy’s parents did not keep their eye on him.
“If they would of he would have not been able to get inside the enclosure. These parents should be held accountable for their actions of not supervising their child.
“Please sign this petition to encourage the Cincinnati Zoo and police department hold them responsible.”