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. PaulMG

    I've randomly read 30 or so the comments. And even with a tragic event, too many, far too many want to be judge and jury.
    To condemn that poor child's mother at a time like should shame you.

    November 4, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • parents worst nightmare

      I AGREE!!!!

      November 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mom

    Wow such judgement passed on these poor parents! This is just so horrible to even imagine. Try putting yourselfs in their place and having to hear and watch your child get attacked. I just don't understand the trying to lure the dogs away....shoot the dog! This is a child! Why would there be any hesitation? All because of some endangered species? Really? Unbelievable! God bless this family!

    November 5, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Buster Hymen

    It's FEEDIN' time !!

    Hey, you see what I see ?

    I hope we don't have to go back on that Alpo after this !

    November 5, 2012 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • parents worst nightmare

      God Forgive you how lonely a person you must be to be so cruel

      November 5, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      You're a lowlife

      November 5, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rachel

    I would be happy if they would wipe out the other 5000 of these beasts.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • InfectedHumans

      Totally agree. Save the child, clone the dogs!

      November 5, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. Thinker

    Mama went to get popcorn, leaving the child unsupervised.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
    • bannister

      Could be wrong, but I have a feeling that the dogs weren't the only Africans involved-I bet the child and parents were too.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Josh

    Too many dumb parents out there. This kid didn't have to die. People will probably say to not blame the parent, it could happen to anyone. And that's the problem – too many people look for excuses for bad parents. I sure hope the parent of this child doesn't try to sue the zoo.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Porchia

      So true. Lots of people who have no right procreating.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      they DO have a right – and this is what happens. This is life. Some people are stupid and make stupid mistakes.
      The dogs ate well.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • holistichmaking

      I can't believe that you and many others are quick to judge this mother. How many of you that are parents have made mistakes before? How many of you parents have lifted your child to help them see something better at a zoo or similar place? I live in Pittsburgh and there are more details of the story being shared than what is being shared here. The mother was holding her son and about as quick as she lifted him he wiggled loose ... it could have happened anywhere. The mother and the father were being medically treated because of the trauma ... doesn't sound like a careless and wreckless parent to me. If it were you and you had made a mistake and something like this happened to your child would you like people judging you as a person and parent? I think everyone who has a judgmental comment about this mom or the situation needs to think long and hard about how they would like to be treated if the tables were turned.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
    • tallulah13

      The mother acted irresponsibly. I have no intention of excusing her negligence so you can excuse your own. A parent is responsible for taking care of their child. That includes not placing toddlers on top of fences 14 feet over a pen of predators. If a two-year-old in my care wanted to be higher for a better look, I would hold him in my arms, behind the fence at a safe distance.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lance Legstrong

    Was it a Tootsie Roll, or a Saltine ?

    November 5, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • speaknow

      We are talking about a babies life here this child was eatten by dogs.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ben

    Humans are the only animal that have the ability to be a moral agents and rationalize, therefor, all other animals are below us, insofar as their disposition remains at our discretion. If the dogs were a threat, and the boy's rescue could have reasonably been effected, eliminate the dogs. Or better yet, pay the monkeys to build better fences at zoos (no pun).

    November 5, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • tallulah13

      The dogs are an endangered species, humans are not. The dogs were acting as their instincts dictate. They did not ask to be placed in a zoo. They did not ask that their natural habitat be destroyed by the actions of humans. It's very sad that a child died, but his parents are ultimately responsible, not the zoo, and most certainly not the dogs.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sandi

    DON'T KILL THE ENDANGERED DOGS!!! Humans are expendable, much as they'd try to deny it. At least that's what Darwin says, especially about this kid's mother.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  10. jimmyrussles

    Animals belonge in the wild NOT in a cage. Also why would they make it so easy for a kid to go in there?

    November 5, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Yeah, at <5,000 of these dogs remaining, they are doing REALLY WELL in the wild bro...

      November 5, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Whatevs

      They didn't make it easy for a child to get in there. The mother placed the child on top of the railing in a standing position and apparently let go of him. He lost his balance and fell. Don't blame the zoo because the kid's mom was an id1ot.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. shrimoti

    The parent is at fault that they cant take care of their children, the poor animal has to die without any fault of theirs. amazing thst an endangered species has to be killed to save another species which is over populating the planet

    November 5, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      SO edgy bro

      November 5, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. Amy

    How do we know that it wasn't the father, a grandparent, or another adult that was in charge? Don't automatically blame someone's mother. This is a tragedy no matter what.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Whatevs

      How do we know it was the mom's fault. Because if you goto an actual news site, unlike CNN, you would learn these sort of details. You can find the story from a Pittsburgh news agency, and it says that the mom placed the child, in a standing position, on top of the protective barrier. So yeah, the mom is stup1d.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. Thinker

    How the lawsuit be settled ? Foe how much $$ ?

    November 5, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. Thinker

    May be Pittsburgh Zoo did not feed the dogs and they were very hungry.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • parents worst nightmare

      a family has lost their child god forgive you

      November 5, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. Greenspam

    Another Obama failure!

    November 5, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Took the words out of my mouth

      November 5, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • speaknow


      November 5, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Wow, you're stup1d!


      November 5, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
    • betseymcqueen15

      You think thats bad? My nail polish chipped today and It was all Romney's fault. Totes not gonna vote for him now...

      November 5, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
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