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. mickey

    the dogs are endangered. idiot parents are not.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. Justice for Wildlife

    Hey CNN, what's the deal with disappearing comments on this article?

    Three times I have posted my comment (since 10 pm last night) which read...
    "Another incident of human stupidity resulting in the death of endangered wildlife. Reminds me of Zanesville. Humans are this planet's ultimate virus."
    ...and was followed by a link to a YouTube video which illustrated my point.

    In no way did my post violate your Terms of Service. But, each post disappeared within minutes.

    Yet you allowed the following gems to remain...

    From: Buster Hymen on November 5, 2012 at 12:02 am...
    "It's FEEDIN' time !! Hey, Rover.....do you see what I see ? I hope we don't have to go back on that Alpo after this !"

    From: bannister on November 5, 2012 at 12:15 am...
    "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."

    From: Eisenhorn on November 5, 2012 at 6:56 am...
    "The mother was a moron, the kid would probably have been an idiot too. The dogs saved us from it breeding."

    I've posted links to relevant videos in comments on other CNN articles as recently as Saturday without a problem. I don't get it. Exactly what is CNN's agenda here?

    November 5, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • patricia

      amen!

      November 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ian

    The wild dogs should not be in captivity in the first place

    November 5, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. 5587hours

    Throw the parents in with the dogs.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. sadie

    I don't think it is nessecary for anyone to say it is the parent's fault, you were not there and you were not in their position. The mother just loss her son and regardless who's fault it is you should feel some kind of sympathy for the little boy and mother. I can't imagine having this happen in my life. have respect and if you don't have anything nice to say than you shouldn't say it all.
    p.s my sympathy goes out to the family.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • SandraDee

      SHE put him up on that railing, SHE let him go, SHE didn't jump in after her own child. So yes, I have compassion for the child and EMPATHY for the family, but that doesn't cloud my common sense that this was a completely avoidable tragedy that would not have happened if that mother had taken the time to Think rationally, something wild dogs are incapable of doing since they act solely on instinct.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom the Other One

      "you were not there and you were not in their position"

      Nether were you and yet… your opinion is somehow more valid than others? You sound like a hypocritical, apologist for bad parenting.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Of course we shouldn't blame the parents, we cannot expect any better out of these people. They lack both reason and accountability, right? Now, I wonder who you are voting for in the election....

      November 5, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      This is tragic and hearbreaking to be sure. But I heard from other news sources that the mother put her baby down on a railing above the dogs' enclosure and must have let go of him. If true, that is beyond irresponsible. Barriers are there for a reason.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Cadi

      Tom – her opinion was that we shouldn't judge the situation since we weren't there. Of course that is valid and in no way makes her a hypocrite. Do you know what hypocrisy means??

      November 5, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • DREAM15X

      The parents did not intentionally toss their child into the animal enclosure, however there is some question as to how could this happen? A parent's responsibility is to guard over their children.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • SandraDee

      Dream15x, the updated reports state the mother put him up on the railing and then let go of him. He then apparently "lost his balance"– he was 2! Two year old lose their balance on a flat floor, let alone a railing meant as a barrier. So yeah, she may as well have tossed him in.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • lefevre

      Are you normal? American parents are asking for such trouble every day...in supermarkets, on the streets, everywhere.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. VASoftball5

    7.5 Billion people. 4999 African dogs. Seems a fair fight. They could have used tranquilizers instead of bullets. What makes you think Humns are superior to be protected? WE'RE NOT ENDANGERED, WE'RE JUST DANGEROUS.

    At a local zoo where I live, a small child was unattended and reached into a bear exhibit. The bear bit him. The animal control killed the TWO bears. Not just the one – because they couldn't determine which bear did the biting. So- TWO INNOCENT animals are killed because of a lazy, stupid, DANGEROUS HUMAN.

    I, for one, rule this as Darwinism. Thin out the herd of stupid people, and the genetic trace of stupidity. Maybe the world will be a better place.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • JML

      I have read numerous versions of this story and the zoo keepers didn't use any lethal force. The police used lethal force on one dog that couldn't be lured away from the boy. I also haven't read anything that says they're going to euthanize the remaining dogs. Anyway, it's pretty messed up that you value the life of a dog more than the life of an innocent child.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • DREAM15X

      That makes me SO mad when animals are unreasonably destroyed as in the case of the two bears you mention. Common sense states not to get too close to the cages and definitely do not place any body parts into an enclosure. The parents in that case were negligent and the bears should not have to pay the price for that. The dogs in this case should not either. They did not hop out of the enclosure and grab this child.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Kirk Stinson

      Sincerely,

      Mr. Know-It-All

      November 5, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  7. Justice for Wildlife

    Another incident of human stupidity resulting in the death of endangered wildlife. Reminds me of Zanesville. Humans are this planet's ultimate virus.

    Watch the video that CNN apparently doesn't want you to see by doing an internet search on...
    "Ohio 2011 – An Exotic Animal's Perspective"

    Let's see how long it takes CNN to censor this post.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. fatherheathen

    I hope that brat made a good snack for those cute, cuddly doggies.

    November 5, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Tajk

      How can you call some little boy you don't know a brat? He's DEAD! He didn't ask to be mauled by wild animal! He didn't even put himself in that position! It wasn't like he was being disobedient. When I read comments like yours is why this world is going to hell in a handbasket!

      November 5, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jimbostud

    Let me guess,...the idiot parent that should be charged with some kind of negligent child endangerment will instead sue the zoo for megabucks and win. The zoo will be closed. The animals all returned to their natural habitats where Darin tkes over and either survive or die out because of natrural selection.

    In short, everyone will gain at the expense of the helpless child!

    November 5, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. Trajan

    Do any of you people have a 3 year old? They typically do not read signs and are apt to disobey even the most watchful (perfect) of parents. We don't know this yet but it could have and most likely happened in a matter of seconds – before the parents or any bystanders could react... Kids are fast – apparently not as fast as these dogs, but fast.

    November 5, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimbostud

      Darwin on display

      November 5, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      If you go to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette website, it gives more details, and it states that the mother stood him on top of the wall around the observation deck. At that point he lost his balance and went over. The mother is the only one to blame.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • claire

      you're the only person on here who has made any sense at all. thank you!

      November 5, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jes

      This isn't the case of a parent looking away for a second and a child gets hurt. This parent put her child in danger by standing him up on the top of a 4 foot railing above the 14 foot drop to the enclosure. Mom failed to read signs and mom disobeyed basic safety rules, not the child, and doesn't deserve your excuses.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      It's for this very reason that responsible parents take precautions in watching their children.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. Cadi

    Some of these comments disgust me. Have we really gotten to the point where we place more value on an animal than a human? And to criticize the mother at this time...None of you were there. You don't know what happened. How about showing some compassion for this little boy's family instead of coming online to tell us all how you are so much better of a parent??

    November 5, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • PC

      These dogs are endangered. Humans are not, and some of them are just plain stupid.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • brenda stefan

      Yes Cadi by now animals should be giving more consideration, especially since human animal has do so much to ruin the earth and hurt all kinds of life!!!

      November 5, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. Stan

    As a highly skilled Kung fu man I have much training in the martial arts. If I had been there I would have leapt into the pit, grabbed the child, then leapt back up to safety. There needs to be more brave heros like me. I'm a hero.

    November 5, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • DREAM15X

      Stan, you are a legend in your own mind! Kudos.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jimbostud

    I visit zoos and aquariums and they make me sick. Almost every animal looks at me like I am their jailer. Wild african pack dogs need to stay in africa where the live or die on their own!

    November 5, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. David Craven

    Only 5000 left in the world, and a cop shot one and took away it's food? Cops are cowards and punks that deserve to be fed to wild dogs.

    November 5, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mom

    Either this was intentional, or it was sheer lack of intelligence on the part of the mother to stand a baby on the ledge holding onto his ankles. Either way, I hope that there are no other children in her care. Poor little child! Maybe this tragedy will result in changes for the better at this zoo, there are many points of access for children who are either not watched or watched incompetently.

    November 5, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
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