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. Bob

    It's animal cruelty to paint dogs. They were probably angry at humans because of it and took it out on the small child.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DrJames

    Let those dogs go extinct.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vigil

      Why not keep them where they are throw murderes and child molesters into the pit? They actually ARE man's best friend, if you know how to use them.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ani

    This is a tragedy! A little boy was killed here. He may very well have died from the fall or by the animals, but the parents and the zoo are equally responsible. The zoo should know by now that many people are ignorant and will put their child up on the fence, no matter how many signs you have up, so it needs to be made, that if someone falls by accident or ignorance that there is some kind of a safety net to keep the humans away from the animals. At the same time, these animals have no business being captive, extinct or not, animals should not be locked up for peoples financial benefits.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben Rivera

      What a dumb post. How much can we protect people from their own stupidity? Why have a zoo at all? There is a certain level of risk in life.. if people do not get it then they learn tragic lessons like this. it is THEIR responsibility NOT the zoo.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ani

      Hey Ben, thanks for the " What a dumb post" comment, Luckily for me, Your Opinion means nothing to me. Yes, I feel they couldn't protected people from their own stupidity a little bit better. The circus has safety net for their own flying idiots, why not have safety nets in areas where a poor little kid can fall ? I did and do say, it's the parents fault, That child should of been with the parents at all times. If that was my kid # 1 He would not have been on NO fence and # 2, I would have fallen with him or gone right in after him. I would never watch my kid get killed, I'd be right there saving him or right there dying with him.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. amanda

    everything from Africa is a curse upon the rest of the world.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • CompassionForBoth

      That's a bit ignorant and judgmental. Disgusting.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      man originated in africa....

      November 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zulu2012

      Seeing as how astronomy and mathematics originated from ancient African studies, your ignorance is harmful to yourself and others. AmanDUH, you should do some research sometime, instead of listening to racist rhetoric

      November 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • loreee

      Why would you say something like that?

      November 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Considering that every human that has ever lived is decended from an African and we humans have done such a great job of butchering each other over the millennia, you're probably right,.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • kai

      You are as senseless as the mother who put her young child on the railing.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • tgrandela

      Well, that would include you too! You, my dear, are from Africa. We are all from Africa! It is where life began. Open up a book instead of spreading hateful propaganda, and maybe you will learn something that will actually help you sound intelligent.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • RealVoiceOfReason

      Then you all agree with him.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • RealVoiceOfReason

      "man originated in africa...." then you agree with him.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tracy

    Did the mother jump down to try and save her baby ? seems like it would have been the natral maternal reaction to have

    November 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hank

      Yeah, she tried to save him, but it was little difficult to do from the kitchen.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cindy

    I am sure this mother now regrets her actions. When parnets fail to use common sense, kids suffer. Perhaps the zoo may want to consider putting up a fence, inorder to prevent this from happening again. I do not blame the child, but do blame the parnets.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • actanzania

      Iis there an assumption that the 'mother' was watching the child? Or do we know who was with the child for certain?

      November 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tim

    Was the mother lowering her kid down into the pen, so that he could pet the nice puppies?

    November 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Frank

    "one aggressive dog was shot and killed by an officer," according to the zoo. ... African painted dogs are among the most endangered dog species in the world, with less than 5,000 left in the wild"

    There are over 7 billion humans. It is a fact that the life of one of those dogs is worth many times more than the life of any one of our children.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Archivedd

      @Frank- False. They are worth nothing in a zoo. Like humans in prison, these dogs contribute nothing to the world in a zoo especially if endangered. The sad thing is that the cop who killed one to try to save the boy will probably get crucified by some extremist animal rights group.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • mrpips

      you may want to look up the definition of the word fact

      November 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • drinker75

      Actually Archive, many zoos raise endangered animals to be released into the wild. I was a docent at one that released a herd of a rare antelope back into Africa that was extinct in the wild.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • JonG

      Wrong, Frank. Even your child's life is more valuable than the life of 5,000 dogs, no matter how endangered they are. Some people do not believe that human life is sacred, they are generally called psycopaths. Stories like this do a good job of showing how many there are, and where they like to congregate (message boards).

      November 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. OrionStyles

    Not one person had the balls to jump in there?

    America has gone soft.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      yes, i am sure you would have been a big macho man and defeated 11 wild dogs by yourself.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • CompassionForBoth

      Yeah, there was no time! There was no "ill protect him before he was mauled." These dogs attacked within milliseconds. I understand your wanting to help. I just don't think it would have been possible, unfortunately 🙁

      November 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mikey

    Fix the problem first, then fix blame. Why did this little boy fall into the enclosure? Parents negligence? Maybe. Inadequate safety barriers? Maybe. Had this ever happened before? What can the zoo do to prevent this from happening again? Instead of condemning the parents, or the zoo, try to identify and fix what ever problem(s) may be present. Then, when full safties are in place, find out who was responsible and take the appropriate action. Stop taking sides. Take action.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • CompassionForBoth

      There were no safety issues. The zoo just passed their strict safety review in September.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      There should be no zoo's. Man created them for profit at the benefit of the animal's lives. If there is anyone to blame it is all of us.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. like a boss

    Looks like Curiosity. ( PUTS ON SHADES)
    Killed the cat

    November 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Archivedd

      Your attempt was bad and you should feel bad. There were no cats in the story.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Zaperdon

    Sad story, I feel sorry for the family – they must feel awful right now. They need to kill all these dogs, once they have killed a human they want more and will kill again given the opportunity. Sorry to all you PETA nuts out there but that is just the way I feel about it.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • JonG

      Fair point except that these dogs probably aren't going to get many others falling into the enclosure. This isn't a mountain lion or bear in the wild, these are wild dogs in a zoo.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lmori

    I bet if the baby belong to one of the officers, he would have shot every single dog in that pen to protect the baby instead of using tranquilizers or trying to lure them away.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tony

    People act as if we're all perfect and live mistake free lives. Yes the mother made a grave mistake, and surely most parents would never place their child in the same situation she placed hers, but at the end of the day she's still human.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. harpman

    who was watching the child? What kind of observation deck has that kind of exposure to a fall into an enclosure? It seems at first glance, that the responsible adult and the zoo are both at fault for this tragedy.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
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