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. Sage45

    I am sorry for everyone involved. I've never been to this zoo and I'm not familiar with the observation deck. From what I've read so far someone stood the little boy up on the fence rail and was holding him by his legs and he fell onto the safety net and off down into the enclosure.

    These dogs aren't like domesticated dogs, they're wild. They didn't attack this child because they were hungry, it's instinct.

    November 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 46mitch

    I read another newspaper and they said the kid climbed a fence..if that's the case where were his parents?

    November 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nichole

    Where any where does it say she was holding the child over it. I myself have not seen anything saying that

    November 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality99

      That claim is 100% lies from the deranged subhumans that want to protect the animals and don't care about the child.

      November 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. nichole

    If that's the case then yes it is completely different situation however nopbe has the right to cast judgment she still has to live with the reality of what happened

    November 4, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jsmith

      Go back to school and learn punctuation and spelling.

      November 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nichole

    There's to many stories, child climbed the fence, mother was holding the child over side, mother holding child by its ankles , child simply fell.. Before anyone can say anything once again I have to say u weren't there you shouldn't csdt judgment on a situation u dont know the true facts about

    November 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • more common sense than you

      the fact is: GRAVITY! it really sucks when a parent pays no attention to their 3 yo!

      November 5, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. steve

    What is wrong with this child's parents? This tragedy should never have happened. Parenting skills were obviously lacking.

    November 4, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kel

      Steve, do you have any kids?????

      November 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality99

      Steve lacks an IQ. The mother was trying to rescue the child. The idiot zoo operators had a 4 foot fence in place. That is criminal. Steve needs to be sterilized because he obviously lacks the IQ needed to be a parent.

      November 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Carpenter 88

    Everyone says not to rush to judge the mother/parents,but that's the responsibility you take on once you decide/elect ti become a parent... Ppl wanta shed responsibility for their actions/deeds,but that's not the way the world works. For Every Action there is a reaction & ppl ARE responsible for things that happen in their lives,& in this case their children's lives too.....

    November 4, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Caveman

    Poor Dog, RIP

    November 4, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • bennyboy

      Poor you

      November 4, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Agreed. I have sympathy for the dog first, kid second...NONE for the parents.

      November 4, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • rebecca

      poor dog???? what about human life??!!! that is what is wrong with the world today..the environment and animals are valued more than humans......that is absolutely pathetic!!

      November 5, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sokki Torka

    Seriously. Where was the parents? It's not the zoo's fault, it's the people's fault, by people, i mean people like you viewing the animals. No amount of safety will protect you people. People will still try to find a way to get themselves killed.

    Put a bigger fence? People will still climb on it. Put double fences? Some idiot will still go over it. It's like someone was saying, put a fence around Niagara Falls so people won't go near the water, but you know what? People still do these stupid acts that will get themselves killed.

    What i want to know here, was the parent texting? Doing something else? Was he/she alone with the boy?

    November 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    Many of the people posting here are more rabid than the dogs. Why does anyone find it necessary to sit here and blame the parents, making in some instances outrageous comments, in the middle of this tragedy?

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

      Right on Bob!

      November 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason Viper

      All the callous comments are from keyboard warriors. 99% are your stereotypical wimpy losers if you met them in real life, that wouldn't have the balls to say that type of stuff to somebody in person. I just ignore them, because they truly are pathetic.

      November 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality99

      They are living proof of how easy it was for the holocaust to occur.

      November 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • BPollutin

      First of all Booooooob...The dogs weren't "rabid". And there's absolutely nothing wrong with people expressing their anger towards an irresponsible and careless parent that caused the death of a child, gave the zoo bad publicity, and will probably cause undeserving tension toward a beautiful, endangered species of animal.

      November 4, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. parents worst nightmare

    I can't belive some of the comment i'm reading. I have meet this mother and she adores her child. Do you really think this is what she had in mind for the day? Take my child to the zoo and let the dogs maul him????? How does a mother go on??? Yes she made a mistake she will have to live with the rest of her life...If she can even continue to go on. And as far as the dogs go seriouslly people would you really chose the dog over a babies life. What if it was your baby being attacked by a dog running the neighborhood? It has happened would you save the dog REALLY! Now lets forget about the mother lets think about the baby!!!!! Save the dogs?????

    November 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maryanne

      Casey Anthony et al had no problem going on with her life!

      November 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • msdlmoore01

      This is not a "baby in the neighborhood being mauled by a dog". Its about an idiot parent that couldn't keep control of her kid. Her fault.

      November 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Puhlease

      A dog roaming the neighborhood is hardly the same as a pack of dogs that are meant to live in the wild, these are NOT domesticated animals they are WILD animals. It's sad it happens but we can't blame a wild animal for acting on instinct. I hope they don't kill all dogs involved especially since they are endangered.

      November 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • JWolff24

      Clearly there were not too many things on her mind. Any other parent would have the safety of his/her child on his/her mind. Any other parent would think, "hey, maybe it's not safe to pick my kid up over the barrier."

      November 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • rebecca

      maryanne.......that is because Casey Anthony is a sociopath.....no conscience.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • more common sense than you

      Good for you that you have met this mother...and as far as adoring her child? A lot of good that does her when she puts the child at risk! I adore my child as well...and oh look! MY CHILD IS STILL ALIVE!

      November 5, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mistylynn

    This is so sad. Prayers to his family.

    November 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. alligator face

    if one were to hold a child over the edge of a bridge with a flowing river 14 feet below and for whatever reason, whether it be accidental or not, happen to drop or lose their grip and the child falls to what is certain death without intervention then that person is guilty of homicide........same applies here to this parent.......no two ways about it.

    November 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • more common sense than you

      and an endangered species died at her hands....charges all around the board!

      November 5, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. Maryanne

    Why are we even discussing this case when we don't know the particulars of the accident? I swear CNN purposefully leaves out/reports without full facts to get posters buzzing with theories.

    November 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality99

      They left out that it was 4 foot fence that was supposed to be a barrier. The 4 foot fence was supposed to prevent you from falling off a 14 foot dropoff into the pit where the mutts were kept. Only the ignorant believes a 4 foot fence is adequate in ANY situation.

      November 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • msdlmoore01

      Gee whiz Reality99, it's astounding that this is the first time it has ever happened. Why don't people just fall in every day? Cuz the mother is irrisponsible. Anyone above 4 feet knows not to climb over and anyone below 4 feet should be watched so they don't climb over. Do the math.

      November 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Meli

    When I was a kid and went to zoos all the time, you didn't see parents letting their kids get too close to cages or the edges of observation decks, and you certainly didn't have lots of kids falling into exhibits. That's because our parents actually bothered to supervise us and pay attention to what we were doing. These parents clearly weren't paying attention and their child is dead because of it. While I have sympathy, the parents need to be put in jail and kept there as an example to other parents to actually BE parents.

    November 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality99

      If the subhumans on here like perennial, antihypo, ana, and other pukes that don't care about this little boy were the ones being mauled to death by their beloved animals, then the world would be a lot better off. Then need the Grizzly Man treatment and then they will be singing a different tune.

      November 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
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