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. CourtJester

    You mean a dingo ate 'cha baby?

    November 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • B Overby

      What a horrible and gross thing to say. But, it was funny.....

      November 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • bibleverse1

      Funny but so so wrong.

      November 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniela

      Really, this is funny people? I've lost faith in all humanity...a child has died tragically and this is what we have...unbelievable.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • katfishers

      Someone beat me too the punch! Hysterical!

      November 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bek

      I'm sure it would be even MORE hysterical if it were the child of one of these idiots.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. Adult at fault

    Come on! Who was the idiot adult who held him up so he could fall in or didn't supervise him so he did? Common sense people. Common sense. Place blame where it belongs. A human adult is responsible for this.

    November 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • dicerotops

      Why does there need to be blame? Why can't people here just offer their condolences to the parents? Tragic accidents happen. Children can get away from you in the blink of an eye.

      November 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniela

      I agree with the below poster and many people assume that a place like a zoo is completely secure...it is not like going to a petting zoo where you have direct contact. Either way, this is a horrible tragedy and if we as a society cannot find compassion and prayers at this time, there is just no hope for us.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pragmatist

      @Daniela–I am curious: if the mother had forgotten her child in a hot car would you still feel as much compassion for her?

      November 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tracy

    this is terrible. so sad

    November 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. alligator face

    the mother should have jumped in to try and save the kid.....she's not only stupid she is a coward.......she should be emmediately arrested.

    November 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJCowboy

      Yeah, that'll solve the problem! Also, learn to spell Mr./Mrs. alligator face

      November 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allnuts

      Why cold the father not have jumped in to save the child?

      November 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kate

    What was the mother doing that the child was able to get over the rail? It isn't the animals fault! It is horrible that a child has lost his/her life over it, but again people need to realize the railings and fences are there for a reason!

    November 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Margaret Keelan

      Kate, exactly

      November 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. scott

    The obvious question is where were the parents?

    November 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ashley

      Well the mother was the one that stood the child on the guard rail that he fell over, so...

      November 5, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. .

    How sad. But why was the child in such a precarious position that he fell into the cage area?

    November 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Donna

    In my mind there were only two innocent victims here....the dog that was shot and the boy who was killed....RIP

    November 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lauree

    Reports being tweeted from eye witnesses say that the Mother was holding the child up for a better view, lost her grip on him when he leaned forward. My heart goes out to her, but railings and fences are there for a reason. Parents have got to think before being so reckless. 3 year olds are wiggly by nature.

    November 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. hoss108

    Hope someone got video of it for my research on "Human Behavior in Shocking Moments".

    November 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sarah

    This is so, so sad, my hear goes out to the family.

    November 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BR

    "Necessary precautions" MUST include the potential for poor parenting. The zoo will likely be held partially liable. Poor kid.

    November 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • doggonnit

      By poor parenting, do you mean extreme stupidity?

      November 5, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim Russell

    I've been to this exhibit several times. There is absolutely no WAY you could "fall in" unless you were doing something wildly stupid.

    November 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tenley

      Not only are you correct, but, as many people have noted - without wondering why this might be the case - but no adult jumped in, and there's a reason for that, because it would be no small feat to accomplish and was made difficult to do.

      November 4, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. J2

    That is awful.

    November 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robbo

    Micheal Jackson lives!

    November 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
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