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. Chris

    the dingo ate my baby

    November 5, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      sick, sick individual

      November 5, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. CNNuthin

    Quick! Ban all Zoos! Won't anybody think of the children? (Please do not take this comment seriously...)

    November 5, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. K from AZ

    Why didn't the mother watch the kid & not let him climb the fence? Her fault!

    November 5, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • thatguythere

      she put the kid there and he lost his balance, she didn't let him climb it, that's what probably makes it worse

      November 5, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. sympathy

    People he was on her hip!!! the baby keep touching the pelexie glass leaning forward to touch. At this location there was no pelexie glass. the baby lounged forward with his winter coat on and it made it impossible to hang on to him. BELIEVE ME SHE IS BLAMING HERSELF not the dogs not the zoo.The father was not there so quit blaming the dad.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • CNNuthin

      @Sympathy, I am looking up more and more on this observation deck. It did not have "Plexi Glass" it had wired mesh. It had one part without the mesh. There was a definite visibility difference in material. And a 3 year old child on a lap is very unlikely to fall over a 4 foot guard railing unless the read is elevated or the mother was "seated" right in the walkway and the seats were raised 3 feet... You could be right that the child was pressing up on the side, but it is still mothers responsibility to hold on, and also Police reports are saying that witnesses saw the mother place the child on the railing and was not holding him when he fell in.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • sympathy

      yes off to the left and right not on the observation deck

      November 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • sympathy

      police report is wrong i'm talking to the witness

      November 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • JonG

      @sympathy Are you her attorney? You seem to be setting up a legal defense more than you seem to be asking for sympathy.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • sympathy

      No I jus hear all these untruths we all know how the news is the parents are dieing inside. I came on here to read kind words of sympathy and just was so dissapointed on how heartless people are she did want this to happen no matter what transpired

      November 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JonG

      Well, good luck with that sympathy, but you seem more like a defense/plaintiff's attorney in the wings than an otherwisre interested party. 'The mother picked the child up, put him on the railing,' Major Crimes Lt. Kevin Kraus said, describing the moments before the 11:45 a.m. attack. 'Almost immediately after that, he lost his balance and fell into the pit.'

      I hadn't considered the possibility that she intended it to happen until your message, but based on the accounts of her screaming, it seems more like a bad decision/mistake than an intentional killing.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark Anderson

    The mother was silly, but anyone who comments that the dogs life is more important than the childs, seriously, off yourself.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Torrey

      You're the reason that if the world ends next month? I'd smile.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. WOW

    @ TRUTH....GOOD ONE. AND @ S KYLE....YES, THE TARGET AUDIENCE FOR TRUTH'S REPLY IS LOCATED ELSEWHERE.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. No2Atheism

    Another hate crime.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. Barry G.

    I'm sure the parent feels terrible, but what on earth was the child doing on the fence!

    November 5, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Slat

    In the heat of the moment, it may have seemed possible that putting down this especially aggressive dog could give the child a better chance at survival. Or maybe this dog attacked the officer. A human life is worth more than an endangered animal's life. Sorry. You're not right.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. lwingate

    Just thinking about this makes me sick. That mother was an idiot. Poor child.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. lisa

    So tragic and heartbreaking,I don't like to cry but anyone who knows me,knows hows I am when it comes to kids and the elderly....First I want to say may he R.I.P and I know without a doubt his soul went straight to the heavens....Second I wasn't there at the scene but my senses are telling me of a scenario of this sort.."Mommie pick me up I want to see" ...along with crying and whining. I don't know the Mom.so I won't down play her skills too much,but I know it's in a kids nature to be curious just as it was those dogs nature to do what they did. But there is no way on earth that BABY just climbed over and fell in,even if he and Mom were the ONLY TWO visitors in the entire Zoo that day......14 feet!!!!...Kids are quick but the HUMAN EYE is quicker....also quicker than human reflexes......Truth always come to light...May GOD be with Ms Mom in her days of sorrow...

    November 5, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • sympathy

      he was on her hip!!!!!

      November 5, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. sympathy

    people he was on her hip!!! he had been touching the pelexie glass along the exhbit at this location there was no pelexie glass he lounged forward and she could not hold on to him with his big winter coat on. She is not blaming the dogs or the zoo she is blaming her self the father was not there so quit blaming the dad

    November 5, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • daniela

      are you one of the witnesses? or you are just a friend of one?

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

      friend of family and family by marriage

      November 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Blah Blah Blah

    YES, I agree with "REALLY?" YOU ARE AN IDIOT! I dont care what you say, yes the parent was in the wrong, however, the child does not deserve to be mauled. It stinks that the animal had to be killed, but its life and a HUMAN'S life is far more inportant than an Animals, even if the kid was already dead. Some poeple are heartless and do not think about how they would feel in that scenario. If it was your kid, you would not want the kid to be completely eaten by some dogs, edangered or not.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      "the child does not deserve to be mauled"

      I remember why I come here. To be enlightened of course. Doe anything deserve to be mauled?

      November 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. eddie2010

    Police are always looking for an excuse to shoot a dog lately anyway, haven't you noticed?

    November 5, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. thatguythere

    there's some debate as to the cause of death, the child may not have survived the fall, 14 feet is a pretty big drop for a small child

    November 5, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
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