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. To evil parent

    So,she went there to feed her 3yr old to the dogs and wanted to make it look like other. No right mind person would do such stupid thing! Just face it! That person did what was plan to be done! Case closed! Let the dogs be! Shoot the one that had the 3yr old being fed to the dogs! Poor dog that lost his life due to some evil person that pushed the child over.

    November 5, 2012 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. tutuvabene

    I love these forums because I get the details that CNN fails to report in the story.

    November 5, 2012 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cara

    I know the mother made a bad decision by putting her child up on the railing. It was a lapse in judgement on her part. But I'm sure many of us have had a lapse in judgement as far our children go and fortunately nothing happened. This mother will live with this for the rest of her life. I pray for her, her family, the little boy, and the animal that had to be killed. I've been to the PIttsburgh Zoo many times with my own children. The African Painted dogs are one of my sons favorites. I don't blame the Zoo for the tragedy. The enclosure is a safe enclosure. Again a lapse in judgement is what caused this tragedy.

    November 5, 2012 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      A lapse in judgement? It is an incredibly vicious wild animal enclosure, and she put her 2 year old up on the railing and he fell into the enclosure! That is not a lapse in judgement that is plain disregard and stupidity resulting in the death of a child and an endangered species. Lapse of judgement is far too kind.

      November 5, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Jake R

      Lapse in judgement is something like forgetting to close the back door and the kid gets out and gets hurt. When you place a 2 year old kid on a railing that is designed to keep people out, then that's not a lapse in judgement, that is purposely going around safety measures designed to protect not only the people watching the animals, but also to protect the animals too. Sadly humans don't care about anyone except themselves. There are signs in different places saying don't feed the animals, and guess what people do. Not a lapse in judgement, just pure selfish behaviour. A kid and animals had to die unnecessarily.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. Diggler

    Charge the parent. Simple. Beyond recklessness, stupidity and disgusting

    November 5, 2012 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. confused

    kill em kill all them. I don't care if someone wasn't watching the boy, and why didn't the handlers rush in earlier. the zoo is at fault. what was to be a fun day out is a tragedy.not one animals life is worth one boys.not a thousand

    November 5, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      the first words you used would be the words I use to describe people like you. Why do you think humans are so much miore valuable. They certainly arent as rare and doesnt rarity usually determine value?

      November 5, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Ernie

      You are intellectually disabled and should be shot.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Havoc287

      Sounds like natural selection to me. And careless parents.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • sally

      Your name describes you perfectly. These animals are endangered due to the human mentality of "kill everything". All other news reports have stated that the mother had the boy standing atop the exhibits railing. Railings are there for a reason, so these things don't happen; especially to children. What we saw here today was parental Darwinism at it's finest. I'm sorry for the family and their boy, but the animals acted like animals. That's what they are, and how they should stay.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • adam

      Look on the bright side. One less potential idiot.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Maverick

      Chris, Don't give much credence to the doof. She stole the line from Casper Ven Dien in "Starship Troopers"...shows how original she can be.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      the wild dogs behaved like wild dogs. get over yourself

      November 5, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Maybe the child died in the fall. Did the story say anything about that? To those who think dogs are equal or more valuable than humans -- you are sick

      November 5, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      What an idiot you are! People like you and like the idiot mother who should not be allowed to procreate are the reason why society is so messed up!! Those are wild animals and what do you expect from these animals?? Humans should have the common sense not to do stupid things so why is it the animals fault if some people are too stupid?? No, some people's lives are certaintly not worth more than any animal....

      November 5, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Stacey

      Right, because there are no dangerous animals at the zoo. Maybe we should put people like you in the zoo.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Adam - the only possibl bright side would be you eaten alive

      November 5, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • triggerclue

      Easy, Nancy Grace.... You're talking like you're crazy. You need to stop and think before you go posting comments that make you sound ridiculous.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • CarmenSo

      Since humans aren't on the endanger species list. Its too bad that one had to die because someone was watching their kid

      November 5, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike are confused. The mother is clearly at fault. You are typical. Nobody is accountable for anything right? It is always everyone else's fault. The zoo isn't at fault, and neither are the dogs. If you watch your kid these things don't happen.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Timme62

      That's right, blame the animals for doing what come natural to them. It's to bad that humans don't protect and care for their young as well as animals, perhaps then this little boy would still be alive.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Dave – I didnt say dogs generally are more important life than humans, no! But when it is a very endangered wild dog that pretty much only exists inside the prison of a zoo enclosure, then yes we need some perspective. These are very valuable life forms because they are nearly gone – extinct – all dead forever and ever. Think outside your own private sphere and you may understand.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  6. kamal koin

    i truly feel for the parents. they're obviously overwhelmed by grief, mea culpa etc. we should be praying for them. goes to show it's absolutely ok to be overprotective, mildly paranoid etc when it comes to u'r kids. U just never know!!! Two stories where nannies/guardians stab kids to death. Now this. My kids complain but there's no way I'm reducing my level of vigilance. Too many nutjobs and weird scenario's out there.

    November 5, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Erin

      What this article doesn't state, and what's available on Pittsburgh news sites, is that the mother stood him up on the railing and lost her grip on him.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • CarmenSo

      Gee i wonder how a three year old managed to climb a railing and then fall 14 feet to his death into the painted dog exhibit. Hmmmm I wonder. I am sure some idiot on here will eventually yell don't blame the victim. I am sorry but if the so call victim is the reason for the accident them they are the only ones you can blame.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • kat

      I agree with you, my husband says I am overprotective, but as a mother I always see what could happen to my children, and avoid danger. Yesterday we were at the zoo and a friend sat my 1 year old baby on the railing , and I quickly told her to move my child from there. But of course some people think that nothing could happen till it happens. I am pretty sure this parents are suffering and will do for their entire life .Accidents happen, but don't ever think you're exaggerating and take precautions specially with your kids. I understand the ones saying that they 'll jump in the pen to save their child, that's mother 's instinct , and in that case there would have been two casualties probably. But don't judge them, only if you are a parent you would understand.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  7. Crystal

    Pray for these parents, they have both been hospitalized for trauma and are heavily sedated.

    November 5, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      turn up the sedation to the point of lethal injection.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • 123elle

      Does that mean that both parents stood and watched and did not jump in after their child? I cannot imagine that. As for being killed in there, I would do away with myself anyway after dropping the child like that, so one might as well die fighting for the baby.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. zing

    kill the rest of 5000 dogs left.who cares about endangered species.Screw that."poor animals" what about the cows and pigs u kill and eat every day.hippocrites

    November 5, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      You fool. Cows and pigs are not an endangered species. Some people actually like nature and the diversity of animals in it – has nothing to do with vegetarianism. Some animals are more valuable to mankid because they are rare and endangered, they are precious because once they are gone – that's it forever. Nature evolved over millions of years and we still think its ok to wipe everything off the planet that does not 'serve' us like cows and pigs do.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil McCracken

      You vote Republican don't you?

      November 5, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      so, finish off a species?

      you should seek the council of a psychological professional.

      or, at a minimum, a tall building

      November 5, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      I was thinking they vote Democrat!

      November 5, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Shen

      So... because some humans let a toddler fall into the pen of creatures that WE captured/bred and are keeping there, and those creatures did what they're born to do... you want to commit purposeful, endangered species genocide? Really? Get some perspective.

      I like dogs, too (more than people...), but if Silence of the Lambs actually happened, I wouldn't blame the woman for hurting Buffalo Bill's dog. After all, he put her there, let her have a reason to hurt the dog, and let it go near her.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. Stephen

    What a tragedy! My heart goes out to the parents, but they also bear the responsibility of not ensuring the safety of their child. This is a worst way possible to learn a lesson.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  10. Zach

    Dont blame the dogs, the boy didn't fall the stupid mom dropped it!!

    November 5, 2012 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jack from Mn

    Raise the fencing so children cannot fall in.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. parents should be parents

    The Pittsburgh news shows that the mother put the kid on top of a railing to look at the animals – what about that seems like a good idea? Negligent Homicide is what this is.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  13. Anne S.

    What this article fails to tell is that the mother placed the boy up on the wall so he could get a better view of the dogs. It was her own stupidity for placing the boy there. It's evident that once she placed him there she did not hold on to him. It was her own carelessness that led to this. And if she tries to sue the zoo she shouldn't get one red dime.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. AZ

    very sad.. How agonizing would be the scenario. Oh!!!

    November 5, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. Silence Dogood

    If my son was killed by humans, I would want to kill all humans, too

    Or I can just wait until the Republicans get the White House again

    November 5, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
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