November 4th, 2012
03:11 PM ET

African painted dogs kill young boy at Pittsburgh Zoo

A group of African painted dogs killed a boy who fell into their exhibit today at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Barbara Baker, the zoo's president, said the child was around 3 years old.

He "fell off an observation deck that's about 14 feet above the exhibit," she said, "and was killed by the dogs."

"Our emergency teams and our Pittsburgh police responded immediately, but there wasn’t anything that could be done," added Baker.

The boy fell into the enclosure at 11:45 a.m., and visitors quickly alerted staff, the zoo said in a statement. A zookeeper moved seven of the 11 dogs out of the exhibit, and a Veterinarian Department member shot darts trying to scare away the remaining dogs.

"Unfortunately, the dogs were in pack mentality and not responding," the zoo said.

Zookeepers, meanwhile, entered the exhibit to try to lure the dogs away, but they could not reach the boy in time. The keepers and Pittsburgh police officers continued efforts, too, to lure away the dogs, and "one aggressive dog was shot and killed by an officer," according to the zoo.

The Pittsburgh Zoo and the associated PPG Aquarium are closed until further notice.

African painted dogs are among the most endangered dog species in the world, with less than 5,000 left in the wild, according to the zoo. The zoo has a breeding program.

Each is about the size of a small German shepherd, Baker said.

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Filed under: Animals • Pennsylvania • U.S.
soundoff (1,798 Responses)
  1. DisgruntledGrrl

    ORLY? This article left out two things: 1 – these little guys have an 80% success factor when they tackle a kill. Lions only have a 30% factor. 2 – THE MOTHER DANGLED THE CHILD OVER THE EDGE. This was on a Pittsburgh news site. I came here to see what CNN had and I should really stop being surprised that they have less. That woman should be more than slapped. I hope her husband divorces her.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. barfly

    why do humans have zoos ? lol

    November 4, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Paul R.

    Idiot parents.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • J

      They (The Zoo) neglected to put protective fencing in a dome over the entire human accessible area, to protect the animals from the humans.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      the zoo didn't fail to do ANYTHING! the stupid parent allowed said child to stand on the railing at which point he lost his balance (meaning stupid parent wasn't even HOLDING ON!) and the animals behaved as they normally would in the wild...is that NOT why you go to the zoo, to see animals in as close to their natural habitat as possible since it is nearly impossible to actually go visit their TRUE habitat? So, yes, shame on the stupid parent for lack of a brain! The parent should be charged with negligence and sued by the zoo for the death of an endangered species!

      November 4, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. johnquepublique

    Let's play "Finish the Sentence"!!! As the 3 year old boy fell into the dog area, the parents were.........

    November 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • big stinky

      voting for barrack hussien osama

      November 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Sorry, but helicopter parenting and being a flaming liberal go together. They were putting Romney signs up on their lawn, while asking for handouts from Obama for cleanup from Hurricane Sandy.

      And frankly, wouldn't most of us jump in after the poor kid? What did they think the dogs would do, roll over and play fetch?

      November 4, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      rh, the stupid parent PUT their kid up on the ledge....chalk up one to Darwin!

      November 4, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chris fubar

    Breeding programs are helpful to the preservation of a number of species. However, showing off the animals and making them pay the price for lack of common sense on the human side is the definition of counter productivity. Next time, shoot the parent, pet the animal. To kill what is already at risk of extinction due to human stupidity is nonesense. Should this pattern continue we WILL be the only species left.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • RaisedEyebrow

      Ok, you pet the wild dogs first.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jen

    I cannot believe that I am reading posts that are blaming the mother, calling a 3 year old an idiot and saying the animals are more valuable than the childs life. You disgust me! First and foremost, we ALL have lifted our children, moved a little closer to the edge or taken an extra step to give our children an advantage. If you say you haven't you are a liar and the fact that this is an accident and you are attacking her...sick! The mother is a defenseless woman that none of you know, greiving the death of her son and you pass judgement? How dare you? The PETA junk posted is so out of line. A human life was lost, whether he was killed in the fall or not, a childs body was a chew toy for animals. There is a point where "pro-animal" spew becomes anti-reality. Someone was not going to kill an animal to make boots, they killed a child. I won't stoop to the level of the heartless people on this site, as I feel CNN has a responsibility to remove your posts due to inhumane and unwarranted attacks on the mother and deceased child; however, I really hope that you never have to suffer the emotions of losing a child. And by chance you do, I will make sure that I post on a world wide web site that you are at fault. I don't care who you are, how your child or loved one dies, you are at fault for just breathing the same air they did. Sound out of line? The contempt I feel towards the people posting disgusting comments scares me, as my Chrisitan faith can normally guide me to a higher road. I also am aware your vile posts will follow mine, and you will try to say hurtful things to make yourself feel better, go ahead. The hate filled posts that you pass on to others will find its way to the trash, probably next to your soul.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Jen,

      What is it that you don't understand? It wasn't the animals fault, don't you get it? If you don't then there is really no hope for being so blind to the truth of the matter.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roo

      Wrong. 🙂

      November 4, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • msdlmoore01

      Jen,
      If you did the same with your children, then you put them at risk as well. What the mother did was wrong and stupid. Yes, its too bad the child died...and the mother will have to live with her guilt.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gail

      Speak for yourself, I have never put my child in danger like that – NEVER!

      November 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • ...

      If it wasn't the parents' fault, this would be happening everyday, to everyone. Oh wait, it doesn't. That's when reality hits you and you take a step back to realize that you were the root cause of the problem that got your child killed.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      No, we haven't. We've looked on with contempt at others who have done so. Maybe all the times *your* kid didn't fall in is what made this kid fall.

      And frankly, a 14-foot drop is probably fatal anyway...

      November 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      The only "spew" here is coming out of Jen's filthy mouth.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • louis mason

      i remember Michael Jackson holding a baby over a window ledge... maybe they were trying to be like MJ?

      November 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      I'm sorry, but a ledge/railing/etc is there for the protection of the people and animals. Do not EVER confuse me with an idiot who would put my 3 yo on the ledge to get a view off of a 14 ft drop, let alone NOT have my hand on said child so he could lose his balance and fall 2 stories to his death...nope sorry just you, you idiot!

      November 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • EElizabeth

      Jen, it wasn't the animals' fault. They are animals. Unfortunately it WAS the mother's fault. She made a tragic mistake. However, I agree that she should not be berated. It was a terrible accident and I'm sure she is in agony over her loss and is tottered by her part in it. I think we need to look at how to keep people out of these animal enclosures, as well as looking at how to keep the animals in. Perhaps the "netting" that was in place, to catch small items that can fall into the enclosure, needs to be replaced with something more substantial...reinforced wire perhaps?

      November 5, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dennis

    The parents are 100% to blame.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sally

    I see parents doing stupid stuff all the time with their kids, putting them up on railings, letting them climb on things-they don't think about a slip and fall, and they should. The bottom line is this was a toddler, it wasn't the toddlers fault. I would have shot every wild dog in there to protect a human life if I had the chance to protect the child.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      Those endangered wild dogs are worth more than you AND your stupid children.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality99

      Heather is demonstrating why she is lonely and hated by everyone who lives in her trailer park.

      November 4, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @Reality99

      It is clearly obvious that you do not have the capacity to love, you're the lonely one. An animal would pick-up your vibe a mile away, they can smell your ignorance, fact.

      November 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality99

      Yeah.... and my two friends, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson would smoke your little animal within a millisecond. I'd dump the carcass on your trailer porch and watch you cry for hours because the mutt is extinct.

      November 4, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @UnReality

      We'll be waiting.

      November 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jim

    Okay I have read the comments my question is why did not someone or people at large go in to the pen to protect the child. I always run scenerios in my my the what if kind. Personally I would have gone down there and tryed to get the child out. But then again that is me human life is precious. Nuff said

    November 4, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • msdlmoore01

      That is all bs talk. You would have been scared out of your mind and wouldn't want to stupidly kill yourself and leave your children fatherless.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scratch

      You would have died too.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. T Lan

    Once again, an animal is shot due to human error. I don't understand why such a viewing platform exists if there is any danger at all of anyone being able to fall into an enclosure.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Msquared

    Don't blame the parents, they will do that for the rest of their lives. It's a tragic accident.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • msdlmoore01

      Then don't blame the zoo either.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      and they should blame themselves while they sit in jail after the zoo blames them for the death of an endangered species as well!

      November 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dennis

    I don't understand how it is possible to fall into this enclosure.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • msdlmoore01

      The mother was holding her child up by the ankles, the child sqirmed and mother lost her grip...that is how it happened. She lifted the child above the safety rail.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JWolff24

    The mom placed the child up onto a wooden rail and let go of him. He lost balance and fell in. The father was not there. The mother is 100% to blame here. Terrible judgment on her part.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      yup and now she should be charged with the death of an endangered species as well as a human life!

      November 4, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Babyboohoo

    Let me guess, the parent was texting and didn't pay attention.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tristadigiuseppi

    This is such a sad story, for a variety of reasons. The comments here are inappropriate – from all sides.

    People make mistakes.
    Animals will be animals.
    Kids will be kids.
    Life is what it is and death is more threatening than we often realize.

    Stop fighting.

    November 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThankYou

      This might be the best comment I've ever read on the internet.

      November 4, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • tristadigiuseppi

      😀

      November 4, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
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