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. blackberry55

    i have two girls. one 7 years old and one 6 years old. if that happen. i jum in to protect the lives of my girls. because they are my life. i will bite like a dog and do anything to defend my girl if she fell in.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      and would you stupidly put your child in danger by letting it get to the edge of this railing for it to fall and get killed. The mother has no sympathy frpom me she put her child in danger.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • parents worst nightmare

      the minute the boy hit the ground the dogs attacked so please tell me how YOU could have saved your child

      November 5, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • fyre

      I appreciate the sentiment, but your flat omnivore teeth are no match for a pack of carnivores who have been itching for live prey since birth. Your poor spouse would be dealing with the loss of her entire family.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. parents worst nightmare

    the mother did the right thing.. screaming for help... had she jumped over the railing HOW COULD SHE GET HER SON HELP! Who would know they were down there???? For those of you that think you could fiend off 11 dogs while picking up your son and climbing out BE REAL! she knew she could not save him she scremed for help!!!! And for all you Macho men that think you could have singlely jumped in saved your son and came out alive.. WITHOUT A GUN.. enter the real world!

    November 5, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Anne

    His parents or at least mother is to blame for putting him in danger. Yes I feel bad for the animals...they are doing what they do and the mother is at fault 100% for letting the kid so close to the top of the rail he could fall or somehow get homself over.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • parents worst nightmare

      What about the child???Wasn't he innocent too?? Where is everyones compassion???

      November 5, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Mitt

      @parents worst nightmare

      What about the child???Wasn't he innocent too?? Where is everyones compassion???
      We're Republicans...we have no compassion.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lenny

    The mother should be arrested for Endangering the Life of a Child.
    What kind of idiot puts their on a rail like that???

    November 5, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. Anne

    The mother is at fault 100%... you are an idiot

    November 5, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. Doubting Thomas

    If the mother, or anyone else, jumped in to "save" this child, they would have been attacked torn apart too. This is what this African wild dog does, especially in packs. Anyone who thinks an adult could have jumped in to stop this is as stupid as this boy's mother. She should have never put him on that railing. What was she thinking?

    November 5, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • parents worst nightmare

      thank you

      November 5, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Anders Behring Breivik (King of the Island)

      Well said...that's why tomorrow you must be prepared for another attack by the wild dogs from Africa.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • fyre

      I think Jenny is advocating not keeping carnivores in zoos . . . ? ::scratches head::

      November 5, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. churflap

    It's a shame the kid died and a shame an endangered animal died. It isn't a contest or an either-or; it's sad all the way around so quit arguing about it.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. CalvinHobz

    Has the lawsuit been filed yet? Because nobody dies for free in America.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  9. BooinFl

    This is a lesson of the wild. If your mother isn't vigilant and takes good care of you, wild dogs will eat you.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. j0dy09

    people OMG everyone is so eager to point fingers and say the mother should be punished like if she purposely threw her own child over the fence to get eaten alive . if she should be punished then so everyone else that was watching . i honestly think the zoo was lacking security . they should be prepared at all times for something like this or ese why do they have the damn zoo open .

    November 5, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. Youdoneknow

    I TOTALLY agree. These animals are EXTREMELY dangerous. They should be in their natural habitat, NOT confined to limited soroundings. I also agree that the mother made a HORRIBLE choice of putting a 3 year old up on a railing to see ANY animal with a 11 foot drop below. I have a 3 year old, and both my wife and I would NEVER even consider doing such a thing. I can say this 100% with no doubt. If for whatever reason that was me, or my wife, without hesitation, I would have jumped down (11 foot drop would NOT harm once you brace you landing) and try to save my son. EVEN if it killed us both, I would make the effort to safe his life no matter what. That to me, is what a parent would do. I understand that she could have been in a state of panic, but at that point, thats when the "NATURAL MOTHER/FATHER PARENT" INSTINCT" would kick in. I am 100% certain that there are thousands, and likely millions of parents that would have done the samething I would without even thinking twice.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • parents worst nightmare

      As a parent yes that is what we would hope we would do but the dogs attacked immediatly and were riping him apart 1 by the neck 1 by the head 1 by the leg... so she sreamed for was not there..she needed help she did the right thing had she jumped in who would know they were there to save them?

      November 5, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. kimba999

    The mother will probably sue the zoo for her idiocy. The zoo should sue her for the loss of an endangered animal.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • deadkid

      true that. this incident needs to serve as a lesson to the reckless mothers who can't handle their children, but want other animals dead when they mess up. Listen, the dogs had parents too and like humans, they are animals too.

      If the mother went in and killed the dog in saving the kid, all by herself, that's a different story. The dog was killed by an entirely unrelated person, for no fault of the dogs' using a weapon the dogs have no natural defense against. This is such a shame.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. tonyl

    The exhibits should not be designed for this kind of incident could occur. There should be fenced area where a human cannot get cross over to the other side.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. Magic God

    The stupidity of this parent is BEYOND amazing.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  15. Alyssa

    In danger from extinction or not....if those dogs were ripping apart my child I would personally mow them down with a gun if I had one.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
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