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. Get Real

    It seems we can protect toddlers from bad car seats, baby strollers, cribs, Rx bottles, household cleaners, air pollution, green house gas, bullying, parental abuse, capitalism, rated movies, violent video games, etc, but we can`t protect them from irresponsible keepers of wild African dogs and wild African politicians. America has gone mad. Who ever decided
    to let the liberals make the rules ? I didn`t.

    November 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      Nor can we protect from parents who put their children in harms way. Very sad, but all reports point to the mother's actions in placing her child on a 14 foot high railing above a pit full of wild dogs and letting go of him.

      November 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sabelle

    Nicely said.

    November 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lee

    All you would have done is decimated a species one less human is a good thing we need a people eat to prevent us from destroying the planet.

    November 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. whowhowho

    you have anger management issues , dont take your boy friend's anger on the forum , you could also make a point without being vicious
    or is it that you are angry at yourself , because you were not able to save the kid, whatis the root cause , enlighten me , for i am intrguied after reaing your posts , they are imganative but filled with destructive sense of justice

    November 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Devin J. Tomb

    Exactly. I can't even imagine thinking about whether to jump in or not. I'd be over that fence before that little child was on the ground.

    November 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nytw

    The kid's mother should be arrested for murder.

    November 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TESLAvision

    i wonder how many folks stood around and watched? 11 dogs in the habitat, but how many grown men were standing around?

    November 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. snookers

    My idea of a safe Zoo is to move groups of visitors in moveable cages,supervised, from exhibit to exhibit so the animals are protected. I have seen too many visitors pestering animals. Another option would from CC TV at a safe distance to avoid pesky staring, drives primates nuts, and throwing objects, bad food at animals.

    November 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. queenbutterfly has all the lastest details include the coronors findings that the child died from the mauling, not the fall.

    November 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mei

      I hope a fund is opened for the family, and the zoo permanently closes this exhibit. After this horrific death of this little child, the zoo should close entirely or at most the exhibit in memory of this poor little boy who suffered. I am going to write to the zoo and the mayor to ask that it is shut down.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ariel

      Mei, the family didn't win the lottery. Why a fund? WHere was the parent/s???? How could a 3 year old child fall if a parent was taking care of them? The care taker of the child should be thrown in the dog pit!

      November 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leslie

      Mei, why deprive the whole worls from enjoying this beautiful rare animals because of the stupidity of the child's mother? This accident, while tragic, it was unnecessary and it could have been avoided had the mother acted as a mother and take care of that baby. Instead, she place the child in harm's way. This was not the zoo's fault or the animals'. I agree with Ariel, throw the mother in the pit. I call that natural selection.

      November 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Warchief

    Makes me sick that some people have more compassion for animals than humans.

    November 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      That's because animals usually don't have a choice but to put up with humans decidedly moronic behavior.
      Specifically like this mother's moronic behavior.

      November 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mei

      You are right–that people should care more about the little boy who died such a horrific death and the poor mother and relatives who witnessed his death. they will not be able to forget this the rest of their lives. The animal exhibit should be closed permanently.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Makes me sick that in spite of having 7,000,000,000 humans on earth and only 5,000 of these dogs left, that people still whine about how people are soooo precious.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soso

      @ Frank
      lol you're crazy. If the victim was your loved one you'd be one of said people whining about how people are in fact "soooo precious". No ability to put yourself in others shoes...amazing. I sure hope you never have should just stick to pets.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      The sign at the zoo said "don't feed the animals"

      November 5, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kim

    Or local Pittsburgh news station just reported that the little boy died from being mauled and not from the fall. His mom lifted him up to stand on the railing (based on the report; I was not there and have no first hand knowledge). He actually fell in the protective netting and bounced out. The report also said that none of the dogs would be euthanized. The zoo is to reopen tomorrow. The names of the victim is still not being released. Hopefully it was at least quick or he was knocked out form the fall. My prayers are with the family of this little boy, including his mom who has to live with this the rest of her life.

    November 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      One of the few remaining African painted dogs was shot and killed by a responding cop.

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

    Those dogs were doing what God instilled in them, which didn't include the possibility of a non-thinking parent being anywhere around them.

    November 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. james

    A boy just got mauled by an animal. Animal activist or not, right now would probably not be the best time to show compassion for said animal that was shot. Some of you love animals just a little too much.....

    November 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • snookers

      Both the innocent little boy and the dead dog are victims of a human that lacked common sense..

      November 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Casey

      Two animals died and both deaths were tragic. If you can't recognize both tragedies then something is wrong with you. Ultimately the kid was already long-since dead and not worth shooting an endangered animal over.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jesus is Lord

    Where were the men? Seems like if a group of guys went down in there, they could have rescued the child.

    November 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Why should the guys? The guys should have thrown the mother in there to rescue him.

      November 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pieter

    I feel bad for the family. The mother is probably suicidal at this point and damn I hope the kid went fast and didn't suffer. That aside, I think that child falling in there is most likely the result of someone being very careless so I can't see why the animals would deserve to be destroyed, they're just doing what's natural to them. The family wanting the animals destroyed is normal as they're more directly affected then any of us are. I've read a lot of stories about people being killed or injured in enclosures and almost all of involved someone crossing a barrier or being careless with a kid.

    November 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crow

      The child if it survived the fall would have died almost instantly in a hyena type of attack. They rip out the throat as soon as they can get to it. I feel sad that anyone had to suffer such a fate but the animals were doing exactly what they were designed to do by the loving Xtian god who in an act of supreme compassion allowed the child to fall.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
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