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. trisha

    Prayers for the mother and father of this poor innocent boy. I can't even imagine what this mother is going threw. Things happen so quick with little ones. This is something horrible that the memories will not fade. I pray that God eases the pain and helps this mother and other people who saw this happening. Why can't people have sympathy and compassion for people anymore some of these comments are just awful and to worry about an animal being killed over a human life is just unbelievable.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. Cardinals929

    Anyone who is worried about the dead wild dog more than the death of the child is wrong and disgusting. It's a WILD DOG and it threatened the lives of the child and the rescuers. How about YOU get in the cage and then tell us a human life isn't worth that of an animal, no matter how many are in existence. Heartless...

    November 5, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. Barry G.

    Years ago there was discussion in the social work literature about licensing parenting.

    The discussion went like this: You must have a license to operate a motor vehicle, to own a pet, and to go hunting and fishing; but, there is no such requirement for parents.

    Despite the obvious need to have a reasonable standard and regulation of parents, one policy professor said: It will never happen–and you know why.

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

      he was on her hip he lounged forward he was not on the railing

      November 5, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • CNNuthin

      @Sympathy, where are you getting this info? No News Source is making that claim, that I can find.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • whatthe

      the official report was that the mom reported to police and zoo officials that she placed the boy standing on top of the railing.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • sympathy

      the witness told the family i live in pitt mom is close friend of family

      November 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • sympathy

      not true mom is in shock and hospitalized

      November 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vigil

      This reply is to sympathy: ABC news did a "virtual view" of the accident, based on reports from witnesses and law enforcement. It shows the mother standing her child on top of the rail and letting go of him. Screenshots of it are posted at the Daily Mail if you want to take a look at it.

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

      yes we saw that how could they show that when there has been no investigation yet i only know what the witness said she said baby was on her hip and reached out and she could not hold on

      November 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • bigot

      "the witness told the family i live in pitt mom is close friend of family"

      LOL so you take her word as the absolute truth? She probably doesn't even remember what happened with any accuracy.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rex

    I am more concerned about the other children that had to witness the baby getting torn limb from limb by the beasts. They will be forced to live with the blood curdling screams of the child and may need serious counseling.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Youareinthewrongspot

    You are sad whether a dog dies or not.
    The kid could have grown to save 1,000 species, he did not get a chance yet. There is a large difference between a baby and a "thinking" adult like you.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. Thenextstep

    Stupid parents for allowing the kid to be where it wasn't suppose to get too...

    November 5, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Vigil

      I think you mean "stupid mother for putting the kid where he wasn't supposed to go." Dad wasn't there, and the boy was placed on the railing by his mum... he didn't climb it.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dcj3831

    OH.........MY.............GOD!!!!

    If it is true that the mother stood her child up on the railing then YES she is stupid and responsible. If YOU are so senseless that your concern for a species of dog surpasses that of a human being....ANY human being....You have GOT TO KILL YOURSELF! You need to lean into the strike-zone and take one for the team because your very existence is repulsive.

    I wish you were there. I wish you were there yelling at the police not to hurt the dog that was mauling and killing a 3 year old human being. There would be 2 human lives to morn today.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WASP

    it surprises me the responces on here.
    1) the wilddog put down was "aggressive" toward the zoo handlers trying to get to the child.
    2) zoos have signs warning of the very ignorant behaviour the mother committed.
    3) the dogs followed the law of the jungle " eat what is smaller than you."
    4) the mother action fully deserve to be reviewed by security footage and witness footage as well, in a court.
    5) where were the "brave men" during all this? did no one think to jump down and fend off the dogs after the child went over?

    November 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • History Bear

      Brave men probably weren't at the zoo that day and a 14 foot drop on uneven ground could have crippled the person jumpint and possibly led to even more tradgey. As to Mom, if she was neglient, then let her pay, but she is going to suffer anyway.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. whatthe

    The mom stood the boy on the top of the rail and he lost his footing and fell. I have 3 young kids and we live close to the LA Zoo but I NEVER let my kids close to the railings. Call me a helicopter parent but kids don't have common sense. Secondly I am baffled why the mom did not jump in. Neither my husband or I would hesitate. Even if the jump would kill us, it would simply be my first instinct. Poor mom must be devastated.

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

      I agree Nicole... I would NEVER put or allow a child up on a railing, esp. one 14 ft above the ground (and with carnivourous animals below!) for one, and second I would have lept that fence without thinking twice had my child gotten in that pen...

      November 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Humbly

      You know, I am inclined to agree with you. Letting the kid stand on a railing was dumb, but I am more perplexed by how you don't jump in as well. I almost think you would do it without even thinking, just as a natural reaction. I also think this same thing when parents escape a fire where their children perished. How did they not try to save them....EVEN if they knew it would cost them their lives. It seems odd. Granted, I've never been in that position, but I still think I would have jumped in after the baby.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Thor

    Ancient practices in the Steppes Mountains included throwing children into the snow and sport was made of throwing unwanted children to the dogs in the PIT. Barbaric behaviors will never end. I just wonder; who are really the civilized?

    November 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. History Bear

    where were mom and dad? 3 year olds are mobile and curious. Unfortunately the parents will suffer and the child has lost it's life. The dogs did what pack dogs do. Wire closures up to 3 feet high to protect little kids against themselves
    as to killing the dog(s) I hope not. what they did was natural. Hope and wishes for the Parents. .

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

      The enclosure has a gazebo viewing area that has a viewing window with a 4ft high railing. CNN doesn't report the story with all the facts. The mother actually stuck the child up on top of the rail and he lost his balance and fell and fell about 15 feet from that viewing window. A young child can't get up there on their own ....

      November 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeremy

    Sympathy, perhaps you should read the facts instead of making things up. He was not on her hip, he did not lunge forward, and you will not find a zoo in the entire united states that has a fence that only goes to hip level to a dangerous animal enclosure. She lifted him up onto the railing and he fell. There is no excuse that could take the bloame off of the mother for the child falling.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • sympathy

      i'm telling you what the witness said she hicked him up on her hip You do not know this woman i do she adores her baby she did not plan on a trip to the zoo to have this happen

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

      I suppose the mom jumped in after her child and tried to save him too, right? According to the same "witness?"

      November 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • sympathy

      no she did not jump in 1 dog grabbed her baby by the throat 1 by the leg 1 by the head NO SHE SCREAMED LIKE ANY OTHER MOTHER WOULD HELP!!!!

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

      '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.'

      November 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jeremy

    Sympathy, perhaps you should read the facts instead of making things up. He was not on her hip, he did not lunge forward, and you will not find a zoo in the entire united states that has a fence that only goes to hip level to a dangerous animal enclosure. She lifted him up onto the railing and he fell. There is no excuse that could take the blame off of the mother for the child falling.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • sympathy

      i don'tneed to read the facts i have talked with awitness the family is very upset by the news reports

      November 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vigil

      Sympathy, the railing was 4 feet high, so if you don't believe the news reports, believe your tape measure. Unless the mom is 7 feet tall, it's ludicrous to believe that this tiny boy managed to lunge off her hip and over the railing.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jon

    So in PETA's world should these dogs be tried for murder?

    November 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • CNNuthin

      No, PETA would be trying to have the Zoo Staff that shot and killed a dog to get it off the child arrested and put on trial for animal abuse.

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

      Please make your case against PETA

      November 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      PETA is bad

      November 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Camelspyder

    Like I always say when I see stories of children dying because of stupid parents; everyone should not be allowed to breed.

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