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. Martins

    Insult on the intelligence of Africans.Respect SHOULD be reciprocal.Dont forget that Africa is a CONTINENT:HOWEVER; the situatn is regreted.RIP:

    November 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sam

    so many nasty comments about how one shouldn't have sympathy for the mother. are we really that cold? yeah she screwed up, and she paid for it, and then some. a mother lost her own child due to her own mistake...this has got to be terribly hard on her, I'm sure. have a heart!

    November 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. pittsburgher

    If there's even the slightest chance that the public can gain access to a wild animal enclosure, then the enclosure needs redesigned. Sadly, that's the bottom line.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kay Jay

    I don't see anywhere that the child was taken to the Zoo by 'Mother', why people are targetting 'Mothers' here. Can't it be a fault of a DAD or UNCLE?

    November 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      I'm gonna bet you read only one story and take it for truth. Voting for Romney?

      November 5, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • GEB

      The child was there with his mother and some friends. The father arrived at the scene shortly after the tragic incident occurred.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    All of you people who are putting the dogs' lives above this child's live disturb me. You have all lost touch with reality.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      I did not read one post where someone put the animal before the child, where is it? As far as reality and not being in it; that would be you, it wasn't the dogs fault moron.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      There are more people than I can count saying that they can't beleive that the cops would shoot this endangered animal. It's not their fault? Of course not, but who cares. For those of you that say the officers should not have shot the dog, I suppose that you think that they should just have waited for the child to be consumed and the dog's hunger to be satiated. Maybe you can offer yourselves up as nourishment for these glorious endangered beasts.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logan

      Thechild fell in there. The dogs have a pac mentaliy. Since this is an endangered species. And humans are not. Why would you shoot and kill the dog officer?That is my question, unless th dog is physically charging at youwith canines bared. Do not kill it. SERIOUSLY!!

      November 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      You aren't in a court of law. The child is being attacked by dogs, and by one especially that won't stop attacking. The dog's motives are irrelevant.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justice for Wildlife

      Mike, what disturbs me is another incident of human stupidity resulting in the death of endangered wildlife. Reminds me of Zanesville. Humans are this planet's ultimate virus.

      CNN keeps blocking my post when I include a link to a video on the Zanesville animal massacre, which is relevant to this story with respect to the unwarranted shooting of an endangered species. For the life of me, I can't figure out why CNN is engaging in censorship in this manner. The video is not offensive in any way. It only presents a powerful statement on human treatment of wildlife.

      Watch the video that CNN apparently doesn't want you to see by doing an internet search on...
      "Ohio 2011 – An Exotic Animal's Perspective"

      Let's see how long it takes CNN to censor this post. Tick, tock.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JeanneLH

    Horrible, horrible, horrible... so sorry.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Therese

    Ok I'm sure money and suing is not on her mind at this moment, but if she sues and wins I'm going to be outraged. We all need to follow the rules of society, and that includes the zoo. There were warning signs she ignored because her precision child wanted a better view. Well you know what? Kids shouldn't get everything they want. Safety should have been the priority here, not giving your child a view of violent and dangerous dogs. Why do we think we don't need to follow posted rules? The zoo just passed its safety review in September. This was not the zoo's fault, and not the dogs' fault.

    November 5, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Therese

      *precious child

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

    thats absolutly aweful if you ppl only knew the way that African painted dogs killed that child went threw hell no way to go

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

    who let the dogs out , sorry who let the kid in
    cant understand what wvere other bystanders , including parents doing , why not jump in ; dogs suerly would not have attacked a MOB of people
    i mean you have 2 hands , you can take some bag , stone , wood branch , even just drive the car in OR HONK THE HELL OUT, thrwo anyting in your hands their way

    i mean ,car could have smashed the encloser unit -it wont allow dogs to escape and it would have also scared them to run away from the child

    November 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. diana horton

    sorry, but the life of a child is worth more that those african dogs. -FRANK,

    November 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vigil

      You could also argue that a child's life is more important than automobiles, so we should ban driving because some parents don't put their toddlers in car seats.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      It would be easy to make an argument that driving has advanced humankind. The same argument would be difficult to make for these11 painted dogs.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. maria

    yes it is tragic but could have been prevented! A small child has no business being placed on top of a viewing ledge! No matter how strong you think your hands on them! almost as careless as that mother in california who let her little guy out by her van to pee and then ran over him when she couldn't see him!!!! i swear! think and use common sense!!!

    November 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Hank

    I'm almost certain that the mother earnestly tried to help, but when a pack of dingos is eating your baby...all is right in the world.....dingoes and babies go together like Steve Irwin and a stingray

    November 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Don

    This was a young child that died a horrible death.I wanna know how anyone could fall in the enclosure.The Zoo did not have all saftey issues covered for this to happen point blank.The officer that shot the dog,its too bad he did'nt get more!

    November 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ashley

      This is an incredibly secure exhibit, actually. Large concrete, steel & plexiglass walls surround the entire ground-level of the exhibit. On the overlook (14 feet above the enclosure) there is a 4 foot tall heavy wood fence with a security net below. There are cautionary signs everywhere that say NOT to stand/lean/climb on any of the fences and yet this mother still, for whatever reasons, thinks that is it okay to lift her toddler up onto the guard rail 14 feet above a pack of wild dogs? It certainly isn't the zoo's fault.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Therese

      It was secure and safe. The zoo had just passed their safety review 5 weeks prior! How could mom have ignored those signs like that?? What, do people think they are there for kicks? They are there for a reason...to keep people safe! Why do people think they are immune from the rules of society?!

      November 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Meathead (of the Word)

    The mother's neglect is criminal and she should be in jail!

    November 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. whowhowho

    who let the dogs out , sorry who let the kid in
    cant understand what were other bystanders , including parents doing , why not jump in ; dogs surely would not have attacked a MOB of people
    i mean you have 2 hands , you can take some bag , stone , wood branch , even just drive the car in OR HONK THE HELL OUT, throw anything in your hands their way
    i mean ,car could have smashed the encloser -it wont allow dogs to escape and it would have also scared them to run away from the child

    November 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vigil

      It's possible the boy was already dead from the fall and no one wanted to risk their lives to rescue a corpse. We won't know for sure until the investigation and autopsy is complete. (Sorry if this is a double post...things are glitchy today.)

      November 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
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