The story may have been eclipsed by the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The reference is to the late Harambe, a denizen of the Cincinnati Zoo until last week when an adventurous 4-year-old wandered into the primate’s enclosure, ultimately leading to the controversial decision to kill the gorilla. Since then, the actions of the child’s parents and their fitness to remain parents have come under scrutiny.
Which brings to another set of parents and an assessment of their parenting skills. As reported in this space on Tuesday, some 130 firefighters and police had been combing the woods outside of Hokkaido, Japan, searching for a 7-year-old who was left there alone by his parents because he had been misbehaving. Takayuki Tanooka, the boy’s father, explained to authorities that he and his wife had not gone far from where they deposited young Yamato, only 500 yards and not for very long, but that when they returned the boy had vanished. After an exhaustive search, the now-frantic couple finally contacted the police.
I am pleased to report that after an absence of six days, the child has been found, a little the worse for wear but alive. How he managed to survive seems largely a matter of luck. He discovered an abandoned military barracks near where he had been dropped off and slept there at night, between two mattresses to ward off the temperatures, which dropped into the low 40s. He remained hydrated by drinking water from a tap outside the building.
Somehow, despite his tender age and a total lack of food, he clearly managed to keep his wits about him. That may have been as much a factor as anything else in his managing to remain safe and sound in a woods inhabited by bears.
All of this is no thanks to the parents, who were the engineers of his ordeal. A tearful and no doubt relieved Takayuki Tanooka told reporters that he and his wife “reflected on what we did and it was really excessive.”
Kyodo News reports (via the Daily Mail) that police are considering neglect charges against the Tanookas. Neglect? That ought to hold them until the next time they decide their child needs discipline.