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. speaknow

    That poor baby faced a horrible death I have no compassion for the Mother or the Dogs.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. k.k.

    My heart goes out for the parents and the poor kid that had to suffer so much and experience death in such a violent way.

    The animals are victims too of the zoo keepers. They belong in the wild and in nature, people wantt to exhibit animals, let them go to their natural settings. If they are endangered animals, keep them close to their natural surroundings. Caged animals have never been fun to watch for me.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • clemente

      Zoo`s are non profits and their mission is to educate and preserve endangered species. Of course the dogs belong in the wild but they`re not doing so well there.That`s WHY they`re endangered.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. Charlie

    Read the pittsburgh online news. The kid was 2, the mother put the kid on the railing, the kid lost his balance and fell. The mother's 100% at fault. She should be charged with child endangerment, no different than leaving the kid alone in a house or locked in a car. Sorry, but the mother messed up big time.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • parents worst nightmare

      does no one fill sorry for this mother? yes she messed up and now will have to try to continue living knowing she is the cause of her precious babies losing his life.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • tallulah13

      No, I don't feel sorry for her at all. She is ultimately responsible for the death of her child. Putting a 2 year old on the top of a fence that is 14 feet above an exhibit of predators, and allowing him to fall is nothing short of negligence.

      There have been a lot of reports in the news recently about mothers murdering their children. I believe that this incident should be fully investigated.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. Won

    LOL! I blame the parents, and Zoo's incompetence.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Whatevs

      The Zoo's incompetence??? How do you figure that? It was the mom's fault. I need to stop coming to CNN. The comments here always remind me just how dumb so many Americans are.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. mmi16

    14 feet – the fall probably killed the child – not the dogs.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • betseymcqueen15

      I hope so. Less suffering.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
    • AK

      unless the child landed on his neck or head, no. Younger you are, the more malleable and soft your bones are. If he landed even on his back he would survive. Kids fall longer heights than adults and dont break bones cuz its much more soft cartilage than our calcified bones.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Mister Nuke

      So do we know whether the kid landed on his head or neck? If he tumbled over (versus walking off the railing, or - big wild card – being pushed), I'd guess he'd be likely to land on his head.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      It was the time for this kid.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Vigil

      The boy's mom stood him upon the 4 foot high rail that borders the observation deck; he lost his balance and fell on top of the netting that's suspended between the deck and the enclosure, which broke his fall. He was indeed mauled to death in front of numerous witnesses. You would not believe how many zoo visitors let their little kids stand on top of the railings at the exhibits. No common sense, at all!

      November 5, 2012 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Mister Nuke

      Hey, Vigil, any idea how long the fall is from the netting to the ground?

      November 5, 2012 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. ac

    i would have jumped in to try to save the kid

    November 5, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Mister Nuke

      Yeah, we have a lot of heroes here. At least in their own minds. You big talkers add nothing.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. betseymcqueen15

    If I had any faith in humanity left, it's all gone now after reading people's comments. I'm not trying to argue that the mom isn't at fault, but she lost her child. How can you have no sympathy for the mother, or even the child for most of you?! Yeah, it was a really, really stupid thing she did, but that would make the pain so much worse. Knowing that she was the reason this happened? WATCHING your child be eaten alive and it's your fault? Well, if this mother deserved to lose her child due to lack of intellegence, you all deserve you lose your children because you lack the very basic human instincts and emotions stable, rational, well adjusted people have. That is your logic, after all. May God have mercy on your souls for, that child, and that mother, who also just ruined two lives.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
    • parents worst nightmare

      finally someone agrees with me I know her she was a wonderful mother who loved that baby everyone can not stop crying

      November 5, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Mister Nuke

      I don't know many "wonderful" mothers who set their kids up to fall into pits of wild dogs.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
    • rs

      I'm with you and also just shake my head at the ease by which a tragedy can be marginalized by the callous mentality of folks. Knee jerk response by folks with low empathy and low intellignece. It doesn't occur to them that the parents didn't go to the zoo thinking I'll be neglegnet and let my kid fall in. Its an accident and a tragedy.

      I hope these folks get to live perfect lives and never have to face a tragedy becasue they let their attention wander or made a decision that turned out to be wrong.

      It is a sad thing that more technology and information seems to be de-humanizing people.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
    • behjat ligon

      Thank you betseymcqueen 15, of course the mother made a mistake, and one she has to live with for the rest of her life. To lose a child must be the hardest thing a parent can experience, but to watch him being killed by wild animals and not be able to do anything is beyond pain and sorrow. People need to show compassion instead of condemning her . May God be with her and her family.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Mister Nuke

      How do we know this was an accident, and not murder by the mother? I'll wait for all the facts.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
    • mlblogscbgoldsmith

      Betsy what Zoo have you EVER been to where its easy to fall in? What mother has ever allowed a kid to be killed at a Zoo? Your sympathy is wasted on this mother who killed her kid!

      November 5, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      The kid must have been tasty to the dogs.

      November 5, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nab

    Parents will never forget those screams ever – shame this was an accident and accidents are neither the parents fault nor the child or animal

    November 5, 2012 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Mister Nuke

      Not the parent's fault? Are you kidding? The mother apparently lifted the kid onto the railing above the dogs. The railing was too high for the kid to climb, do this I'd on the mother.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sylvia

    Three-year-old children should be in harnesses with leashes attached when out in public, and especially so in places like zoos. This was a stupid, careless parent.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
    • katrina

      I hate to see kids on dog leashes.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sparky McGrew

    It's hard to believe that not one adult jumped in there to save the toddler.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
    • MashaSobaka

      Not really. Humans aren't exactly generous when injury or death is on the line.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Mister Nuke

      Really? When's the last time you jumped more than 10 feet into a pit of wild dogs?

      November 5, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Why would you jump in if it was your kid? That would hurt. Them dogs have sharp teeth. I'm sure they at the eys, nose and ears off that kid. I'm sure he was screaming pretty loud with 11 dogs biting him.

      November 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Meh

    Nature just taking it's course.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      And If I jumped in and pumped a round into everyone of those dogs, that too would be nature taking it's course.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. MashaSobaka

    These pigheaded cretins who are so quick to tell the mother that she deserved to lose her child should probably take eight seconds to Google an image of the viewing platform. Tell me that you wouldn't ever, not once, take your eyes off your child on a platform like that, and I'll tell you that you are lying. A child died. A mother lost her son. Show a bit of common decency, for God's sake.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Mister Nuke

      So are you saying the kid got in a position to fall to his death all by himself? Your theory doesn't seem to fit the facts.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. MASTER INFORMER of all the LESS-INFORMED

    dogs suck

    November 5, 2012 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  14. parents worst nightmare

    tell me you can't be that cruel to make that remark

    November 5, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. curt

    Think were ready to clone t-rex yet?

    November 5, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Mad Cow

      Jurassic Park.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
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