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. R

    That's about the stupidest thing, I've heard, today. Is God liable? Are the ZOO officials aware of this, in case they are sued. There are no Gods, and no plans. If you want to see God, just look in the mirror. A judge would throw your statement out.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. S Kyle

    I see what you've done here... and I like it. Too bad the people this is directed toward will never pick up on the irony because you posted this comment to CNN.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. Really?

    Really really? god's plan? Because your god demands sacrifice of small children?

    November 5, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. edwordrules

    Aaaaand thats why you dont keep animals in a zoo.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. rbarnhart

    LOL....exactly right. It was also in God's plan for me to hit the sleep timer this morning. Glad I made it to work on time. God made sure that there weren't any traffic jams on my route.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. Tyrone

    Here's the quote from one news source.............
    "Pittsburgh police said the boy's mother put him on top of the railing at the edge of the viewing deck to see the African painted dogs. But he lost his balance and fell between 11ft and 14ft into the enclosure, where he was attacked by 11 wild animals."
    He's 3 years old and HE lost his balance while on top of a railing???!!! Has to be a very, very irresponsible mother and a very stupid one as well to put a 3 year old in a life and death situation where he is somehow responsible for keeping his balance. Guaranteed she will initially be shocked and grieving but then see big dollar signs and will probably get a big sum out of this after learning how to act like a helpless victim for the courtroom. Lots of people are learning how to produce big crocodile tears and mouth just the right phrases to milk the courts for in reality is their own fault and they should be berated for. Way too many "victims" in the news lately are associated with outrageously irresponsible acts and yet reap more money than I'll make in a lifetime. We've become a weepy soap opera society when it comes to these manipulators and their lawyers. 14 feet up with killer animals below and you set your 3 year old on the railing by himself? Wow! Pay her some big bucks for that one!!!

    November 5, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • pazke

      Okay, I'll concede that she shouldn't have put him on top of the railing, but to go from that to her crying fake tears in a courtroom to win a lawsuit is unfair and inappropriate. Some people do abuse our judicial system. You don't know that she will.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Iceman

    If someone try to sue the zoo over this and I was on the jury I would never vote for them I mean come on its not the zoo's fault how many people go to a zoo every day and don't die its just stupid to think that its the zoo's fault and that they should be punished the only ones who are to be blamed have been punished by nature.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. mark

    I see everyone immediately is referring to the "mother" and how she is to blame (or not to blame). Why is there an immediate focus on the mother whenever a child is hurt? What about the fathers and dads out there? The article didn't mention anything about a mother or father being present ... but all comments focused on what the "mother" did or didn't do. My point? When we talk about caring for our children and providing for their safety – let's include the father in the discussion.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • CNNuthin

      Mark, other news sources are reporting the mother lifted the child over the guardrail to give her 3-Year Old a better look. This is why people are blaming the mother. She endangered the child by ignoring the safety equipment in place. I guess the Zoo could have had taller fences, but who would think a mother would hold her child over a pack of wild dogs?

      November 5, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • CNNuthin

      Authorities didn't release the name of the woman, but say she is 34 years old and lives in Pleasant Hills, just outside Pittsburgh. The boy's father arrived on the scene soon after the accident, police said.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Shelly

    Funniest post of the day. Kindof ironic that your user name is "Truth", should be "BS". There is no god! Get a clue!!!

    November 5, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    I know that 14ft is a good ways up, but no one tried to jump in and defend the kid? I mean all it would take are 3-4 large adults to send those dogs running.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • churflap

      If these were German shepherds that might be true. They aren't. They're wild, dangerous predators instinctively fine-tuned for working together to take down large, resistant prey. If they could be "scared off" as you describe, they'd be extinct from starvation.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • JonG

      @churflap Maybe so, but if my child was down there, I too would become a big predator, and would pose a large threat to the wild dogs myself. I'm sure I wouldn't fare that well, but I would certainly be willing to die trying to hold off some wild dogs.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mikeh6280

    Do people like you ever stop alway what to blame god. This has not one thing to do with god it just happend. It's funny how people like you dont think there is a god but you are so fast to blame him. There is a god and this is just what happend

    November 5, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. tammy spencer

    stupid irresponsible mother

    November 5, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. CNNuthin

    The child did not "Fall" into the exhibit. His mother dropped him after lifting him over the safety rails. Do not blame the zoo, do not blame the child. The Mother is responsible here. Please report this as such.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • sympathy

      that is not true he was on her hip!!!

      November 5, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • CNNuthin

      @Sympathy, Please let us know where that info comes from? I have checked 5 articles so far, CNN does not mention the mother, and the others say she had the child on the guard rail.
      Lt. Kevin Kraus of the Pittsburgh police said the attack happened at about 11:45 a.m. Sunday after the mother picked the child up and put him on top of a railing at the edge of a viewing deck. "Almost immediately after that he lost his balance, fell down off the railing into the pit, and he was immediately attacked by 11 dogs," Kraus said.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • CNNuthin

      I retract my statement. The child did fall. His mother picked him up, sat him on a railing and did not hold onto him. So, a 3-year old on a railing that is 4 feet tall fell over the side several feet into an exhibit of feral dogs. May not be the definition of "dropping" a child, but it is pretty close to it.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. TB

    What an awful situation. So sad for the family and the child, what a horrible way to die. And I will never understand why people do such stupid things. The fence is there for a reason. To my knowledge most zoos have signs stating don't lean or climb on fence!

    November 5, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. jaintn

    The mother stood the 2 year old on the ledge of the railing so he could see better. She will pay dearly for that one stupid stupid mistake for the rest of her life.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • tjoyks


      November 5, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Youareinthewrongspot

      We all walk a gauntlet of death each day. You are callous. You yourself will make at least 3 choices today that could end in death for you or a loved one. It was a mistake, you need not make fun.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • JonG

      @Youareintehwrongspot We manage risk every day of our lives. Placing a toddler on a viewing wall looking into an exhibit of predatory animals is not a risk worth taking.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
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