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.

Post by:
Filed under: Animals • Pennsylvania • U.S.
soundoff (1,798 Responses)
  1. Monica

    If that was my child I would of never let him get so close to the ledge, especially a 3 year old. It's sad that the child died the way he did and my heart goes out to his family. If I was the mother I probably would of jump in right after him to try save him. I totally agree with Nicole.

    November 5, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Monica, that most likely will be suicide. Just saying. that would put both you and the baby in danger.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. trin

    have some common sense people

    November 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ann

    What are fences and barriers for, except to keep people out? Apparently the mother of this child thinks barriers are for putting your kids on top of. If this accident hadn't happened, she would probably be putting him on other barriers and fence-tops, thinking rules didn't apply to her, and teaching him that rules didn't apply to him. Some other accident would have happened to him if he hadn't been killed by this one.

    November 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. doggonnit

    Mother Feeds Young Boy to Rare Wild Dogs at Zoo.

    November 5, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vigil

      Then she actually ignored 2 signs, not 1.

      November 5, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. snookers

    A little boy lost his life due to a parental dangerous action devoid of common sense. Sadly this happens all the time. This time it was in a Zoo.
    But it could have happened at many other places. Difficult to protect little ones from accidents, some fatal, as a result from not too bright parents. Leaving small kids in hot cars comes to mind.

    November 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mom3boys

    Reading these insensitive comments makes me realize why so much of the human race is doomed!
    God help the people who have no sympathy for this mother and the loss of her precious child.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gleezette roach

    Last year a child fell in the bay where I live in his stroller.The father walked away to fish and left the baby alone.Some parents just don't think about the DANGERS!!!PLEASE BE CAREFUL.VERY VERY VERY CAREFUL.RIP LITTLE BABY.

    November 5, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey

    My question to those of you who have placed your children on a railing to get a better view is, have you learned anything from this tragedy? If so, then you also know how the mother could have avoided the tragedy: by doing what most of the rest of us would have done.

    My question to those of you who think the zoo is without fault is, have you learned from this tragedy how the zoo could have avoided it? If so, then you know that the zoo could have avoided this tragedy by designing the zoo as most of the rest of would have done: so that a child who is placed on a railing cannot simply drop in to be devoured by vicious beasts. They already had this possible tragedy in mind when they designed the railing so that a child who slips would not "tend" to fall into the side of the wild animals. We know that there are always nuts who would deliberately drop into an exhibit to meet with the animals. Exhibits should be designed so that these nuts cannot enter the exhibits–regardless of whether this would result in fewer visitors and, therefore, less revenue for the zoo. In considering steps to avoid a tragedy of this magnitude, there exists no reasonable distinction between "reasonable" and "unreasonable" precautions.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Amber

    @ Dave, "why the guys? the guys shouldve thrown the mother in to rescue him"

    are you serious? because people make mistakes and that mother is going to live with that mistake for the rest of her life. and becuase real men instinctively protect others that are weaker than themselves like most women and definitely all children.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • thdrhntr

      I guess were all perfect, nobody has ever made a mistake. Don't be to hard to judge unless you have walked in their shoes.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. kiara proro

    What was that mother thinking when putting a 2 yr old on a ledge and not holding on for dear life......the only why that baby fell in because she let go. My thing is why do that anyways, that is so dangerous would she give the baby a loaded gun to play with, I bet not because its DANGEROUS she should be put in jail for murder. And they had to kill one of those animals that's so sad only 5,000 of those dogs left. It's a shame that baby died like that and its a shame for that dog and its a shame that their are idiots out their that do stupid stuff like that with their kids.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Count

      I am 100% with you on this. TERRIBLE MOTHER. And NO excuses

      November 6, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Crow

      The mother needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. No child that young should be unfettered in public especially zoos. As for the dog that was unnecessarily shot by the black boot, it is no surprise. They shoot and taze unarmed people almost on a daily basis. Appropriate action would have been to shoot the animal with a tranquilizer dart. It was in its own "home" not the trigger happy cop's. This poor excuse for humanity should be made to pay for the replacement of he dog, fired and charged with the needless slaying of an endangered species.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. Raven

    The child should never have been out of the Mother’s arms/sight to begin with. At least nowhere near a ledge near or overlooking wild animals in a Zoo! What was the Mother thinking? It wasn't the dogs fault! The dog should NOT have been killed for protecting itself, and possibly babies of it’s own! Who puts a child on a ledge overlooking wild animals? That is just plain stupidity! The Mother was careless and completely 100% at fault! Some people just should NOT reproduce! Protecting the child should have been the Mother’s #1 priority! The dog's instinct is to protect itself and it's territory. That is where it lives. It was merely being an animal. No child should had been anywhere near the ledge of these wild dogs! People, please WATCH YOUR CHILDREN! I swear, the stuff that happens to children because of neglectful parents! Some parents are just not cut out to have children. The child would never have left my arms in the first place, let alone be anywhere near a ledge overlooking these dogs! Where is the common sense here? They blamed and killed the animal when it was the Mother’s fault that the child fell into the enclosure. She was not watching the child! The animals instinct is to protect it's territory.The Mother is to blame, and the zoo is to blame for killing an innocent, extinct animal! Watch your kids people! It is such a real shame that a child was lost because of such carelessness!

    November 6, 2012 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. Raven

    If this would had been MY child, I never would had left the child (not for one second) on a ledge overlooking wild animals. My child is MY responsibility. The child would have been tight in my arms. If it was an unforeseen accident, I still would NOT blame the animals! These dogs are wild, and they are merely protecting their own territory, and possibly their mates or even babies. It's not like they escaped, and starting killing people. These animals were not expecting a child to fall into their habitat, and probably never experienced such a situation. If the child fell, it is the adults fault, not the animals. The animal is innocent! They were being protective of where they live! How are they to know that this child was not going to hurt them? The Mother should have been taking care of the child! Death isn't worth a closer look at anything! We always have to remember that these are wild animals. Not cute and cuddly puppies. I pray for this poor child. The Mother should have been more careful!! We have two deaths that could have been avoided.A child, and an animal. Both innocent!

    November 6, 2012 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. Raven

    If the incident had happened to MY child, and it was MY fault, I would NOT want the animal to be killed because of my stupidity! This was not the animals fault! This dog was in it's own habitat, minding it's own business when this child fell into it's enclosure. The child fell due to neglect of the Mother, but the animal did not know this! I'm sure the animal felt attacked, and probably even threatened. If people would be more responsible, these things might not happen. The animal wasn't looking for trouble. It was merely responding to it's instincts. As horrible as the death of this child was, the animal did NOT deserve to die. The Mother was negligent, and should be sued, fined, and responsible for the entire incident! I never want to see an innocent child attacked/killed, and of course I would want it to stop immediately! This all goes back to the Mother. She could have prevented the whole incident had she just been a little more protective of her child!

    November 6, 2012 at 4:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Freedom

      Raven, no one is perfect. Being a parent, I know how a child can disappear in a blink of an eye {who hasn't had a child hide in clothes racks while shopping, or play hide and seek? Or try to pull away from you when you are walking down a crowded street} I have 3 special needs children, and I have a degree in social work, but I also know accidents happen. We do not know all the facts, if you are a parent, I dare say that you have been a perfect parent. No one can be, we all are human. This mom was wanting to spend a nice day with her child at the zoo and a tragic accident happened. We've seen this happen before at other zoos, it's not anything new. Why can't anyone show this family some humanity and compassion. The mother will be living with this the rest of her life - you will soon forget, but your words hurt. Until you walk in someone else's shoes, do not judge. Learn to show compassion.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ander

    She should have jumped in to try and save the kid......maybe the husband could have helped too.....moronic to put child on ledge in the first place. Probably did it to get money from lawsuit.

    November 6, 2012 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Donnie the Lion

      I didn't hear the husband was even at the zoo. I imagine the kid had about 30-45 seconds before he was attacked. Very sad. Either the mother jumps in (14 ft drop) or she doesn't, but she probably froze in shock.

      November 6, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. konatsukuonji

    Why does everyone default to blaming the mother, who is not even mentioned in the article? What if the child was there with his father, or siblings, or a babysitter? If the mother was there, I have a very hard time believing that she wasn't trying to dive in after him.. paternal instincts are exceptionally strong. It's not like the kid fell and the mom was like "aw well, I can always make more."

    November 6, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Donnie the Lion

      It was just the mother and child, no other family members. And I don't think anyone else even saw this happen according to local Pittsburgh articles.

      November 6, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45