Return to Transcripts main page
ISIS Using Families as Human Shields; Scale of Kenyan Defeat to Al- Shabaab Kept Secret; Brazil Dealing with Multiple Crises before Summer Olympics; Trump to Reveal Details of January Veteran Donations; Cincinnati Zoo Stands by Decision to Kill Gorilla; Buddhist Temple Shields Tigers from Rescue Efforts. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired May 31, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST (voice-over): Ahead at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, ISIS uses families as human shields in Iraq.
Did Kenya cover up a major terrorist attack?
And a tussle over tigers in Thailand.
CURNOW: Hi, there, welcome. I'm Robyn Curnow at the CNN Center.
At this hour, a fierce fight for a city controlled by ISIS may be twisting into a humanitarian crisis. Iraqi forces are shelling south of Fallujah.
In the fight, some civilians have managed to escape but they tell the U.S. ISIS is dragging families through the city and using them as human shields.
Our Ben Wedeman has covered this region extensively. He joins us from Rome.
Hi, there, Ben. We know from the U.N., they're saying that a human catastrophe is unfolding with these families being used as human shields.
What more do you know?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Definitely the situation at the moment in Fallujah has been bad for quite some time but is getting
much, much worse. What we've seen is an intensification of fighting to the south of the city. The Iraqi forces' artillery, airpower as well as
coalition planes are involved in hitting ISIS targets within the city.
Now the U.N. says that as many as 50,000 civilians are still inside. The UNHCR is saying that several hundred of them have essentially been -- are
being used as human shields by ISIS. They say about 3,700 people, more than 600 families have been able to flee since this offensive began on the
22nd of May.
But even there, there's reason for concern because, according to the U.N., as these people leave the city, the men and boys over the age of 12 are
being separated from their families for interrogation or a security screening, as they call it, by the Iraqi intelligence. They of course are
worried that there may be ISIS elements among those who are leaving. According to the U.N., 27 out of those 500 males have been released so far.
As far as the situation within the city itself goes, it's been difficult for months now but there is an extreme shortage of food. We're hearing
stories of people simply having dusty old dates to eat.
And in terms of medicine, there doesn't seem to be any left. As far as water goes, they're drinking out of the river, which isn't very sanitary,
and in fact the U.N. Is worried that there could be an outbreak of cholera -- Robyn.
CURNOW: And I think what weighs heavily on everybody, as you report this, is that this certainly isn't going to be over anytime soon. We're hearing
overnight of fierce resistance from ISIS.
WEDEMAN: Yes, we're hearing from Iraqi officers that there was a four-hour battle to the south of Fallujah. When ISIS counter attacked as when the
Iraqi force was trying to penetrate the defenses, now we understand there's somewhere between 500 and 2,000 ISIS fighters in the city, many of them are
So they know the place well, they've dug tunnels and trenches. And I mean, just look at the experience of Iraqi forces trying to retake cities,
Ramadi, another -- the major city in Anbar province, where Fallujah is also located.
In that case on the 25th of November last year, the offensive to retake Ramadi from ISIS began. And it wasn't really until the first week of
February that ISIS was finally destroyed in Ramadi. In the process, however, Ramadi itself was also destroyed -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes. Thanks so much, Ben Wedeman there.
Let's take a closer look at the fight against ISIS and the tactics of its fighters. Joby Warrick wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about ISIS. He
joins us from "The Washington Post," where he's a national security reporter.
Hi, there, Great to have you on the show again. And you heard Ben Wedeman there, just laying out the cold, hard facts of what's happening now.
But human shields, digging down for urban warfare, these are all very familiar tactics by ISIS.
JOBY WARRICK, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Absolutely. This is right out of their playbook. We saw what happened when they did try to take Ramadi.
There was fairly quick military success on the ground and then, after that, begins the slow counterattacks and the fighting back by ISIS, using human
shields, using tunnels, using booby traps and IEDs. And it gets really vicious and it becomes --
WARRICK: You know, troops get bogged down with that kind of fighting. And of course on top of that, you have the element of human shields, which just
makes it even more vicious.
CURNOW: As we've known and as you've reported and CNN has reported, civilians very much caught in the middle of this. But particularly the
issue of sex slaves, of Yazidis, who've just come back from the region. And you also had a very powerful report on how as ISIS is slowly getting
pushed back, put under pressure, the lives of many of these young girls and women is getting worse.
WARRICK: Yes. It's a whole other dimension to the humanitarian problem because you're right, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of women who
are used as sex slaves, not just adult women but young girls in some cases, even some who are preteen and some of them are the Yazidis that were
captured from Yazidi cities.
Others are ordinary Iraqis that were captured and taken as sex slaves. And the stories we hear are just horrific and they appear to be under more
stress now than ever because they're being bought and sold and in some cases they're being literally starved out or deprived of medicine because
of the fighting.
CURNOW: Yes. I mean, you write about being bought and sold on Facebook.
WARRICK: Yes, exactly. This is -- we've heard on social media that these sex slaves were being swapped around. But this is -- we had a rare case.
We actually saw photographs of women, whose pictures were posted and they were put online on Facebook actually, as up for sale. And they were being
sold for $8,000 apiece. They appeared to be Yazidi women and it's just a whole new dimension or a whole new illustration of just how depraved the
CURNOW: How depraved the system is and I think the use of the word "system" is a good one; it's an organization and there is increasing strain
on multiple fronts, not just militarily on ISIS.
And this pressure on an organization, trying to pay its fighters, deliver services, the deteriorating conditions are widespread, aren't they?
WARRICK: They certainly are. And it's not just ISIS that's suffering. And we do like to see that they're being deprived of supplies and recruits.
They're having a harder time showing up on the front lines.
But really it does affect civilian populations, too, including the wives; sex slaves and companions of these ISIS fighters appear to be affected as
CURNOW: Joby Warrick, thank you so much.
WARRICK: It's a pleasure, thank you.
CURNOW: Well, in Syria, a dramatic rescue after a night of airstrikes in the city of Idlib. Emergency crews pulled out this young boy out of the
rubble after a bombing leveled a building. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 23 people were killed, at least one airstrike
hit near a hospital.
Russia denies any military operations in Idlib Province.
After months of secrecy, details are now coming out about a devastating terrorist attack against Kenya's military. The Kenyan government has said
little about an Al-Shabaab attack on its forces in Somalia in January. But in a CNN exclusive investigation, our Robyn Kriel uncovered the true and
devastating scale of these losses.
Hi, there, Robyn. Tell us about this.
ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we've discovered, Robyn, is that this is the bloodiest military attack, military defeat, really, in Kenya's
history, that the Kenyan government refuses to admit. That's Kenya's history since independence. Now what we found is that at least 141 Kenyan
defense force members were killed on January 15th, 2016, when Al-Shabaab launched a dawn attack.
Here's our story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was telling us, "This is not my home."
ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The photos he sent home told his family he was brave. But in his personal life, Cpl. James Saitoti
Kuronoi didn't like conflict.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was always joking. He had a permanent smile.
KRIEL (voice-over): His job was to drive tanks out of the El Adde base in Southern Somalia. His pictures showed what he called his new home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know even, the family, however we will fill that gap.
KRIEL (voice-over): On January 15th, Kuronoi's camp was attacked by Al- Shabaab militants. His family didn't hear from him again.
Kenya's defense force brought four caskets home with full military honors but Kuronoi was not among them. The Somali government says there were an
estimated 200 Kenyan soldiers at the base the day of the attack. But the Kenyan government has released no details of what happened. No official
But four months after the attack, a picture is emerging of heavy losses as body after body is quietly released for burials across the country. Kenyan
media has documented at least 30 funerals.
The terror group Al-Shabaab posted this propaganda video, showing the attack and the brutal way wounded and surrendering --
KRIEL (voice-over): -- Kenyan soldiers were simply shot dead. Al-Shabaab claims more than 100 Kenyan soldiers were killed. At least 50 Kenyan
casualties can be counted in the video.
KRIEL: But the death toll may be even higher than that claimed by Al- Shabaab. Two officials familiar with the recovery operations have told CNN that the Kenyan death toll from that day is at least 141, making this
attack the bloodiest defeat for the Kenyan military since independence.
KRIEL (voice-over): The Kenyan defense force would not respond to repeated CNN requests for comment.
One blogger who posted photos and information about the El Adde attack was arrested under a rarely enforced national security law but was later
released by the Kenyan government without charge.
PETER PHAM, DIRECTOR, ATLANTIC COUNCIL AFRICA CENTER: Although they cite national security reasons, in fact what they end up doing is creating an
opportunity for Shabaab, in many cases, to propagandize their victories, perhaps exaggerate them, but there's no way of countering that narrative
because there is no real narrative coming from the government.
KRIEL (voice-over): After seven DNA tests, James Saitoti Kuronoi was finally identified. A tree like this one will be planted near his
gravesite. But James's sister still has many questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We would like to know who are these people, the dead together or how many were they -- it is a question it will live in our mind
Because even if you got your body, what about the rest?
How many were they?
How many were there rescued?
How many are there in charge?
You know, you don't know.
KRIEL (voice-over): For now, the story of the Kenyan soldiers who fought and bled that day is being told not by the country they died serving but
only by the families of the dead and the terrorist group they'd sworn to fight.
KRIEL: Security analysts and public relations experts hugely critical of the lack of information coming from the Kenyan defense force on this
attack. They say that it is allowing Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group, to control the narrative and that silence is not the way to win the war of
strategic communications, which is very, very much a apart of fighting a war in today's society -- Robyn.
CURNOW: OK, thanks so much, great reporting there, Robyn Kriel in Nairobi.
We're going to talk more now with J. Peter Pham, director of The Atlantic Council's Africa Center. In fact, you just heard him in Robyn's piece
there. He joins us now from our Washington bureau with deeper insights on the Al-Shabaab attack and what it says about Kenya's government.
Has the Kenyan government just swept a major military massacre under the carpet?
And, more importantly, what does that tell us about the Kenyan military's capabilities?
PHAM: Well, Robyn, I think what -- this -- the piece of journalism that CNN has done has done a service because it really has raised greater
awareness, not only because it's the sacrifices of the men who were lost at El Adde in January deserve to be recalled and their families receive news
of their fate but, more importantly, without a discussion of what went wrong, how is it that Kenya suffered in a single day its largest military
setback since independence?
We ought to have a better understanding of that. We're going to continue to have tragedies like this because Shabaab simply isn't going away into
CURNOW: No, and Al-Shabaab seems increasingly resilient. At one point it looked like they were on the way out. But they have managed to have some
sort of resurgence and have come back and have managed to execute this kind of massive attack.
PHAM: This is a group that, throughout its history, has proven remarkably resilient. And those -- literally they're a dustbin fill those who've
proclaimed the early defeat of Al-Shabaab.
I think we allowed ourselves in the international community, as well as the African countries regionally, to be complacent that the pushback that Al-
Shabaab certainly suffered the setbacks in 2011-2012 signaled its defeat. In fact, the group simply rearmed itself, recruited new recruits, adapted
And the successes that we've scored in recent months, such as recent attacks by U.S. air forces, both manned and unmanned. on one hand, that's a
success to have eliminated a number of high-profile targets.
On the other hand, that large numbers of Shabaab feel confident enough to amass in order to get hit certainly says something about the group's
CURNOW: Indeed, taking on a organized military group in their base. Now let's talk, though, about Africa and terror more broadly. One analyst says
the continent has an alphabet soup of terror groups, Al-Shabaab, of course, just one of the more resilient but there are a number of others out there.
PHAM: Most certainly and they're increasingly making links with groups beyond, for example, Boko Haram in Nigeria --
PHAM: -- last year formally pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State and this year evidence is emerging that there are links, very real,
tangible links, between Islamic State outposts in Libya and Boko Haram, with fighters and weapons moving between that two.
Al-Shabaab, of course, has been linked in the past with Al Qaeda and increasingly there are elements within Somali Islamist groups, which are
reaching out to the Islamic State as well.
CURNOW: Which is why, in many ways, why Africa is becoming an increasingly important front line in the fight against terror. For the American, I
think there was a report recently quoting a U.S. general, suggesting that there are something like 96 special ops missions in 22 countries in Africa
at the moment.
PHAM: It's certainly of strategic important for us. It's slowly getting the resources and the recognition necessary. But the key to getting the
fight against terrorism right, in Africa or anywhere, is dealing with the facts, learning the lessons that need to be learned from setbacks.
And that's why it's important to really know what happened at El Adde back in January, learn from those mistakes and, hopefully, prevent future
tragedies like this.
CURNOW: A tragedy and when asking those questions, and particularly the way the lessons have been learned in Syria and Iraq, you see increasingly
more use of special operations, a lighter footprint, is that the same lesson that perhaps is going to be learned on the African continent, that
these conventional armies, sitting ducks essentially, like we've heard from Robyn Kriel's reporting, are more vulnerable, that there needs to be a
lighter footprint when it comes to trying to take on these terror groups or -- who are increasingly adaptable, agile?
PHAM: That's certainly one lesson. Another lesson is that in any counter insurgency, those important element is the civilian population, having the
population view the government as legitimate, having buy-in to the political process, giving people some hope on economics, social, political
And unfortunately what happened in Somalia has been there have been successes against Shabaab by military forces. But that can clear out
territory. That doesn't fill the political vacuum that follows.
And that's the onus is on the Somali government, which, all too often, is engaged in internecine, internal squabbling rather than delivering services
to its people and that leaves forces like the Kenyans, like the Burundians, like the Ugandans that are there increasingly isolated, stretched out as
they're trying to hold territory, while the Somali authorities simply don't fill that space.
CURNOW: J. Peter Pham, thank you so much for your perspective. Really appreciate your joining us here at the IDESK.
PHAM: Thank you.
CURNOW: Well, coming up, you're watching CNN. Brazil hosts the world in August for the Olympics but it's dealing with a lot of other things right
now, too. We'll look all the problems the country's facing -- next.
And in the U.S. race for president, Donald Trump claims to have raised millions for veterans' groups but critics want proof. He's confronting
that controversy today. We'll talk about it next.
CURNOW: We are just 66 days from the Summer Olympics and Brazil's problems just keep growing. Political chaos, the Zika virus and a struggle economy
make it a challenging place for the games, to say the least. Our Ivan Watson tells us some people are even thinking the games are cursed.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard not to be seduced by Rio de Janeiro. This spectacular city, soon to
be the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Two months before the start of the games, construction crews are putting in the final touches at the Olympic venues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is going to be ready on time. We're going to deliver the park fully commissioned the 24th of July.
WATSON (voice-over): But despite Rio's beauty, the city and Brazil as a whole are facing some pretty daunting challenges. A whole series of
unexpected setbacks leading some to wonder, are Rio's Olympics somehow cursed?
Just days ago a warning from more than 100 international doctors, calling for the games to be postponed or moved because the mosquito-borne Zika
virus could threaten an expected half a million foreign visitors.
That view rejected by the World Health Organization, which does advise pregnant women to avoid the Olympics entirely because of the risk of severe
deformities to unborn children.
And then there's the political and economic crisis. Turmoil after congress suspended Brazil's elected president in an impeachment process last month.
And high-level description scandals during the worst economic recession in generations, which has left more than 10 million Brazilians unemployed.
The economic hardship aggravating Rio's endemic problems with violent crime, daily gun battles between police and drug gangs in the city's
impoverished favelas, as well as a surge in robberies. This month, members of the Spanish Olympic sailing team mugged at gunpoint.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we just turn around to see what was happening and we saw the pistols like this.
WATSON (voice-over): Olympic sailors also worried about Rio's notoriously polluted bay, a dumping ground for much of the city's raw sewage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't want to swim in it.
WATSON (voice-over): Rio's mayor warns this isn't a first-world city.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't come here expecting that everything will be perfect. We live in a country that has economic crisis, a country with
lots of inequality with all the problems that we've seen concerning corruption, bribes. But the city will be much better than it was when we
got the games.
WATSON (voice-over): But even one of the mayor's new infrastructure projects is now a deadly failure.
This brand-new spectacular cliffside bike path was supposed to be a showcase project for the Olympics. Instead, it became a tragic setback
when the waves took out part of the trail, killing two people last month.
In the turbulent run-up to the Olympics, a virtual storm of bad news that leaves you wondering what could possibly happen next -- Ivan Watson, CNN,
Rio de Janeiro.
CURNOW: Now to the U.S. race for president, when next our presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, is expected confront two of his bigger
In January, Trump held an event that allegedly raised $6 million for veterans' groups. But critics have now questioned how much was actually
Also today, the playbooks for Trump University are expected to be unsealed as part of a class action lawsuit.
Well, joining me now, CNN's senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin.
Hi, there, Drew. Let's start first with this presser, this press conference expected in the next half an hour or so. It's always hard
trying to predict what Donald Trump is going to say. But he is going to try and defend himself.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SR. INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're led to believe, Robyn, that this could be the end of this controversy in the
campaign. And it all began back in January, when he skipped out on a network news debate, a presidential debate, because he was having a tiff
with some network here in the United States and --
GRIFFIN: -- decided to hold this vets fund-raiser. There was a lot of publicity around it. And the night of the fund-raiser, he claimed to have
raised $6 million for vet charities. Well, that's when the news media started asking, OK, where is the money?
Where is it going?
And for four months, it's been a very confusing back-and-forth between reporters and the Trump campaign over where and if all this money was
raised, even the Trump campaign people contradicting even themselves.
So today perhaps a final accounting with a list of all the charities that are getting money. And we do know that a lot of money has been handed out,
as last our count, we've accounted for $4 million. So it was a good thing. It was just ill arranged and turned into kind of a thorn in this campaign's
side. But that, Robyn, could be put to rest today.
CURNOW: When you talk about a thorn in the campaign's side, also you've done a lot of investigating, digging on this Trump University.
What is it and why is it also becoming a focus for many critics of Trump?
GRIFFIN: Well, this is a bigger thorn, both in the presidential race and just in his own pocketbook and it's not going away.
There are three lawsuits in the United States, two in California, one here in New York where I am, all alleging that this Trump University, which, of
course, wasn't a university, was nothing more than a scam to bilk people out of tens of thousands of dollars, believing that they were going to be
taught the secrets of Donald Trump's real estate success.
These were secrets supposedly taught in three- and five-day seminars, along with additional services of mentoring, all supposedly led by Donald Trump
Well, in these three lawsuits, it's alleged that Donald Trump had very little to do with the curriculum but had a lot to do with how to get money
out of these potential students. And some of these students, Robyn, they really dipped into their savings and charged up $34,000.
We're talking about a $40 million operation that shut down in 2010, right about the time that the real estate crash was in full swing.
He's facing these lawsuits. These lawsuits are going to continue to go on throughout this campaign.
The first actual case is going to be here in San Diego on November 28th. But today a judge in that California case will release some documents
relating to how the operation worked.
CURNOW: OK. Drew Griffin, thanks so much. A lot happening and we'll keep an eye on it. Appreciate it.
Well, still ahead, more fallout over a zoo's decision to kill a gorilla to protect a little boy. Why the zoo's director says staff had no choice but
CURNOW: Welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Here's a check of the headlines.
CURNOW: Now to the growing outrage over the death of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. The zoo's director is standing by the decision to shoot
the silverback after a little boy entered its habitat. A lot of people are talking about this and they are debating who, if anyone, is responsible for
Well, our Jessica Schneider joins me. She's standing outside the Cincinnati Zoo.
Hi, there, Jessica. The outrage sort of flows both ways, doesn't it?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Robyn, the controversy, it is raging on the Internet. The debate is swirling over the
zoo's decision and also the parent's action or potential inaction.
But the zoo's director is refusing to cast any blame or point any fingers. In fact, he's calling out all of those so-called Monday morning
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did not take the shooting of Harambe lightly. But that child's life was in danger.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Cincinnati Zoo standing behind their call to kill the gorilla named Harambe after a 3-year-old boy fell roughly 10 feet
into this moat Saturday, coming face-to-face with a 450-pound 17-year-old silverback.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This child was being dragged around. He was head was banging on concrete. This was not a gentle thing.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): But outrage continues to grow over the decision to shoot, the anger spreading online. A change.org petition now garnering
nearly 300,000 signatures, demanding authorities investigate the little boy's parents for not watching their child.
The hashtag #JusticeForHarambe trending on Twitter, don't take your kids to the zoo if you are unable to keep an eye on them at all times, one user
Some are questioning how the protective barriers around the enclosure were breached. That's now under review by zoo officials. Officials who claim
the rails and wires the boy crawled through meet all safety requirements and have been in use for 38 years without incident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can lock your car, you can lock your house but if somebody really wants to get in, they can.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The child's parents thanking the zoo in a statement, saying, "We know that this was a very difficult decision for
them and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla."
One of Harambe's former caretakers, emotional when recounting the silverback's fate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was in a situation where here's this strange thing here that I don't know what to -- what do I do?
And do I fight it?
Do I love it?
Do I run from it?
What do I do?
And an unforeseen circumstance was born and he had to lose.
SCHNEIDER: And a spokesman for the Cincinnati police department says he is not wear of any intention to file criminal charges against either the
mother or the parents at this time.
Now as for the zoo itself, it's saying that they hope to reopen that gorilla exhibit by this weekend, of course that's pending all of the
assessment of those protective barriers -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Thank you so much, appreciate it.
Now the debate and the finger-pointing goes on. In a new opinion piece, CNN commentator and legal analyst, Mel Robbins, says the blame game should
end. Well, Mel joins us now via Skype from Boston.
You talk about a little empathy but the responses to your opinion piece online tell us quite a lot about the judgment that's being thrown around
with this story.
MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, Robyn. Everybody is suddenly an expert in silverback gorillas and knows exactly what should have been done now
that they can look backwards at it. I have to admit that one of the reasons I wrote the piece, Robyn, as a mother of three is because I found
myself as I was reading the headlines over the weekend immediately jumping to the conclusion that the parents must somehow be idiots or they must have
ROBBINS: -- done something. And I was envisioning -- remember that famous scene of Michael Jackson, dangling his child over the balcony?
I was envisioning that that's what happened. But now that we know that this is an instance where the child, as far as the facts are being reported
right now, climbed over this barrier and got into the exhibit and was determined do it, I just -- I don't see how you can blame the parents for
being momentarily distracted at a busy zoo. I just don't.
CURNOW: And you're speaking as a mother but also as a lawyer.
Do you think this is going to go further?
I mean, is anybody, can anybody be charged here?
Whether it's the zoo or the parents or, hey, even the crowd, who seemed to be also agitating the gorilla?
ROBBINS: You know, I think that this is one of these tragic situations, where it was just one horrible accident that created a unfortunate
situation for the zoo. And you asked about charges, could there be criminal charges?
Not unless the facts are somehow tremendously different. If the parents had dropped the child into the enclosure, you could of course seek criminal
If there was something so recklessly negligent about the barrier, you could see criminal charges. But none of the facts bear that out.
Could there be a civil case?
Well, there may be; however, the only negligence would be around the barrier itself. And at the moment, when you hear that the barrier's been
in place for 38 years, that this child just darted away from his mother, that there were dozens of other adults, Robyn. And nobody's talking about
This happened so quickly that none of the other dozen people standing around actually saw the child go over the barrier. People -- that's how
fast it happened. And so I think that there's no negligence here on the part of the zoo.
Unless we find out something was in horrible disarray with the barrier and unless we find out that this mother was off talking on her phone for
several minutes, I don't think there's any negligence on the parents' part at all.
And it's a horrible tragedy. I don't think the zoo had any other choice but to shoot the gorilla.
CURNOW: Yes, and I think many people know -- and I think that -- many people know how fast a 3-year old who wants to run can run.
And but that said, these armchair critics or people who are second guessing the parents, this is a sort of an unfortunate clash of animal rights
activists, children rights activists and all, of course, stoked by cellphone video, social media.
This is sort of a perfect storm in many ways, isn't it?
ROBBINS: Yes, it absolutely is. And I think that it's really easy to sit in the comfort of your home and second guess what happened, based on
cellphone video that you're looking at leisurely over the weekend.
And this is a situation that's stokes everybody's emotions. I mean, think about the zoo. Think about those officials. Of course they didn't want to
shoot this animal that was basically a family member to many of the people that cared for it.
Of course they didn't want anything to happen to this child. But just pause for one second and think about the alternative. Let's say they tried
to lure the gorilla away with fruit and they stalled another five minutes.
Let's say they tried tranquilizing it first, but when they shot the gorilla, assuming they hit it, that the gorilla got agitated and crushed
that kid in front of all those spectators and killed him.
There was no alternative here. And the people that lost out the most were the zoo. They didn't want this to happen. They didn't plan for it to
happen. They -- you know, I mean, it just is so tragic for everybody involved and for people to be reacting with such vitriol to the family and
to the child and to the mother and to the zoo itself, it's -- frankly, it's ridiculous and it's counterproductive.
CURNOW: Mel Robbins, great to have you on the show, both lawyer and mother and, of course, your article getting a lot of hits at cnn.com. Appreciate
ROBBINS: Thanks, Robyn.
CURNOW: Coming up here at the IDESK, officials in Thailand find themselves chasing and tranquilizing tigers. We'll tell you about the chaos and
controversy at a popular tourist spot -- this animal story, next.
CURNOW: I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN. Thanks for joining me.
In Thailand, wildlife officials are at odds with Buddhist monks over a local tourist spot. Now it's a battle that's been going on for years and
now at the center of it all, tigers are running loose. Our Kristie Lu Stout reports.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Calm turns to chaos at a Buddhist temple in Thailand as wildlife officers armed with tranquilizer
guns try to capture dozens of tigers held there in captivity.
Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Temple, known as Tiger Temple, is a popular tourist spot a few hours from the capital, Bangkok, where visitors pay to stroke
and to feed the chained-up tigers.
More than 2,000 wildlife officials and police descended on the temple on Monday to seize some of the 137 tigers and take them to a refuge. But they
say when they arrived at the temple, many of the animals had been set free from their chains.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We had to resort to legal measures by obtaining a court order, which the temple cannot obstruct. But they
still managed to obstruct through other means, such as letting the tigers run free in the cage to make it much harder for us to work.
STOUT (voice-over): Authorities have already taken away eight tigers and say they will continue to remove the rest. Thailand's wildlife
conservation office says the tigers pose a danger to visitors and that they were being mistreated.
The temple's vice president denies that they're doing anything illegal or dangerous and the temple says it is a sanctuary for wild animals and warns
that losing the tigers will impact the local economy.
But Thailand says it is starting to take a tougher stance on animal welfare after increasing international pressure to take action against wildlife
trafficking and the mistreatment of animals -- Kristie Lu Stout, CNN.
CURNOW: Well, that's it from us here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks from me and my team. "WORLD SPORT" is next.