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UPDATED: Child Killed In African Painted Dog Exhibit at Pittsburgh Zoo

The 2-year-old fell into the painted dogs exhibit and was mauled, according to Pittsburgh Police.

UPDATED: A 2-year-old child was killed at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Sunday morning after being mauled when he fell into the African painted dogs exhibit.

"It is with heavy hearts we report that a tragic accident occurred this morning at 11:45 a.m. when a young child fell into the African painted dog exhibit area and was killed," the zoo stated on its Facebook page.

"The accident is under investigation by both the Zoo and the Pittsburgh Police Department. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium will remain closed until further notice."

The child was with his 34-year-old mother, of Pleasant Hills, at the African painted dogs exhibit when he fell from the top of a platform railing to the ground inside the pit area, according to a statement from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

The child was immediately attacked by 11 dogs inside the pen, and was later pronounced dead at the scene as a result of the attack, police said.

Zoo personnel were able to secure 10 of the dogs, but not the final dog due to aggressive and violent behavior, according to the police statement.

When Zone 5 police officers arrived and entered the pit, the dog continued to exhibit extremely aggressive behavior toward the child and the officers, police said.

Both officers fired multiple gunshots and killed the animal, according to the police statement. 

Homicide investigators have interviewed several witnesses and zoo personnel, and the investigation is ongoing, police said. 

They are asking anyone who witnessed this incident to call the Pittsburgh Homicide Unit at (412) 323-7161.

The child's parents are being treated for trauma, according to police.

A news release distributed by zoo officials said keepers cleared seven of the 11 dogs after the child fell into the exhibit, the PG reported.

Darts were shot into the exhibit to scare the dogs away from the child, but "unfortunately, the dogs were in pack mentality and not responding," according to the news release.

African painted dogs are an endangered species, according to the zoo's website.

Earlier this year, the zoo closed when the painted dogs reportedly escaped from their area.

Correction: The child's age is 2; earlier reports listed his age as 3.

Patch will be monitoring developments on this story. Check back for updates.


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Erin Faulk November 05, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Loran, I have deleted your comment because profanity is not allowed by the Patch Terms of Use: http://dormont-brookline.patch.com/terms Please feel free to re-post your comment without swear words. Thanks.
loran November 05, 2012 at 11:32 PM
This lady really needs to b charged. The only person who should get the sympathy is the child and father. Due to him not being there. The mother had NO BUSINESS putting that poor baby at risk. He is two he didnt know better. She did. What that women did makes me so angry, i been crying all day and i dont even know these ppl. I have a 2 year old and it really breaks my heart. This is the worst thing that i have had bother me this bad in a very long time. Two year olds can hardly balance on ground let alone on a 14 ft cliff. That was stupidity all around. Something that should have never happened.
loran November 06, 2012 at 12:09 AM
How can family stand there and watch that poor baby get ate. Words cant even describe wat i think. It is not the zoos fault. It is the irresponsible mothers fault. Wat was going through thats idiots mind. Something needs to be done. Nobody Surely is that dumb to be so careless. As she was putting that sweet baby at risk she should have been totally focused on him. Wow is,all i can say. Its so sad it dont seem real.
loran November 06, 2012 at 01:41 AM
And now i read that the fall did not kill him.None of the worthless ppl did anything to save the poor thing. That idiot mother will live her life knowing she could have saved her son two different times but DID NOT. That sweet boy had to feel the pain. Most ppl that cared would have jumped in to get their child but not them. Humm kinda odd if u ask me.
sean j denti November 06, 2012 at 02:35 AM
You people do know that the railings are designed with the knowledge that children will be held on them, that's why they have that angle on them. Please before you blame anyone for something that they did remember that you really don't know what happened and honestly your opinion is helping anyone or anything except to feed your ego. Have some compassion.
Chloe November 06, 2012 at 02:46 AM
All of you on here are correct, that mother better be charged with this!! She absolutley knew that the zoo had animals that were vicious if something came into their territory. i have a 14 month old little boy and i know my son looks up to me for protection. My son would NEVER be on a ledge like this let alone fall. but if i was ever in this situation i would of jumped down and saved my son! those dogs could maul me to death not my son! i hope this woman lives her life knowing that its HER fault her babyboy is dead. this is a sad sad horrific story. she didnt even TRY to save her son which makes me the most mad! this mother needs to be evaluated and checked for no brain cells!!! i watch my son at all times even if he is on the floor and she was so careless. oh well, i will get closure of this story by saying god took his little angel back home & he is safe now. god knew she wasnt a good mother so he took this precious innocent little baby home.
loran November 06, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Wow so ignorant. The zoo has signs for ppl like u and her saying to stay off. And wat i said is not blame it is the TRUTH buddy.
loran November 06, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Chloe i absolutely agree with you 100%.
Ed M November 06, 2012 at 12:20 PM
This is a tragic accident. Tossing blame around is not what people should be doing. Praying for the family of the toddler who perished is what people should be doing.
Stephanie November 06, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I am sorry but you are wrong, a zoo would NEVER design a fence with an angle as a seat for a child. Fences are there for protection, not a seat.
loran November 06, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Not the mother, i pray for that poor kid who was alive wen gt mauled to death and ppl just watched. Pathetic
Amanda King November 06, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Hi Stephanie, I never stated that a fence should have a seat for a child to sit on and view. Please read ny post again. Thanks
Stephanie November 06, 2012 at 03:38 PM
My apologies, I was talking to Sean J Denti in that comment.
erika November 06, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Perhaps you should stay away from the zoo if you feel you might have to break the rules. The zoo would not be the zoo if it housed domestic cats and dogs. While I am sorry for the mother/family and her loss, this is truly tragic; the zoo has rules and is not to blame.
erika November 06, 2012 at 04:16 PM
I have been taking my five year old to the zoo four years, since he was one year old. Sometimes it is much more difficult to say "Honey, I know you want to get a better look at the pretty dogs, but look, the sign says we can't and there must be a reason for that! I am sorry that you are frustrated that you can't get a good view of them, but it is just too dangerous. Maybe we will get a better view if we move on. Notice how nobody else is holding his/her child up there too look; I think it might be because it is not permitted." I know it is very hard to listen to the whining, but that is our responsibility as a parent.
Beverly Bernard November 06, 2012 at 04:21 PM
May the first person who has never done something foolish or made a poor judgement feel free to condemn here. This family has suffered a tragic loss and will never be the same. It is time for some empathy rather than judgement. I also regret the loss of an endangered animal and these wild animals were only doing what wild animals do. The unfortunate child was prey or dinner.
Amanda King November 06, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Yes, none of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes. However, there is such a thing as Common Sense, and Common Knowledge, of which this child's mother had neither. Let me break it down for you. Common sense says, if I put my child up on this ledge, he could fall and those wild animals could eat him. Common knowledge says, my son cannot fly should he fall, and these rules were placed here for a reason. I should definitely obey them. I have a huge compassionate heart, but whenever I hear of anything bad happening to a child, I get very angry. I could care less about the grownups because they can help themselves, and children are very vunerable.
loran November 06, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Very true . The baby didnt know better, he trusted that mother of his and look where he is now. Kids and animals cannot help themselves thats what we r here for. Yes we all make mistakes but wen it comes to our kids there is no excuse especially for something that dumb
Beverly Bernard November 06, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I think we can agree that neither common sense nor common knowledge was in play that day, however a lapse in judgement resulted in the worst tragedy imaginable and the mother will be punished enough for the rest of her life without help from comments here.
Ryan November 06, 2012 at 08:54 PM
So if your wife were to drink, drive, and kill your child (example), but it was an accident, she just made a mistake, a temporary lapse in judgement - she shouldn't be held accountable? Closing your eyes and wishing better for the family isn't nearly as effective as making an example of her so other idiots don't perpetrate the same behavior.
Ryan November 06, 2012 at 08:58 PM
The animals are in a pit with fencing around it and a barrier along with signs everywhere indicating that people shouldn't lean over or stand on the barriers. A lot of people do it but that doesn't make it a good idea, a lot of people do drugs, a lot of people drink and drive, a lot of people do all kinds of dumb activities and when they act recklessly, we blame them for the negative outcomes of those decisions, and we hold them accountable. She gets to live with this tragedy, but her ineptitude cost her child its life, cost the child's father his son, all because she couldn't heed a warning, or common sense. There is a barrier and there was no escape, most exhibits have redundant areas for the animals to go as another safety precaution.
Ryan November 06, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I agree the mother should be punished and she if anyone, should have made an attempt to save her child. Once that child ended up in the pit though, it was over. Those dogs attack fast, just like a pack of wolves or lions or tigers. That was a long fall and that child sadly didn't have a chance. An unarmed stranger jumping into an enclosure with dangerous animals, would have simply added another fatality to an already sad incident.
Sally Zabo November 10, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I am a grandma to a two year boy. I too had visited the zoo two weeks before, with my two daughters and grandson. We too had stopped at the platform. I stood at that window and thought to myself that if some child had a mind to could climb on railing, jump on net and swing down into pit. Or stand at window and throw harmful things in past that net, and injury the animals. YES, Animals! I wish you would not call them dogs! Told my grandson when he called them doggies.NO...they are not doggies. He viewed them with his feet on the ground. He waited up for better view. My daughter held him up in her arms back away from window. That still made me nervous and I wanted to leave area. The animals were boring laying in piles far end of pit. But I do wished these ones are destroyed. I can see ever going to zoo and letting my grandchild stop at that area without wondering if they see lunch in every small child staring at them since they have killed that easy prey before. Moving them would only put another city in danger. What if they escape again. Zoo is surrounds by houses. RIP BABY BOY my prayers are you.
Ed M November 11, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Apples and oranges Ryan. Drinking and driving is not remotely close to what happened here. Prayer for this family is what's called for.
Ryan November 11, 2012 at 05:39 AM
More so apples to pears. They are different but they aren't that different. How are they so different? In drinking and driving, you choose to take an amount of drinks, then you choose to do something unsafe that could harm yourself or others. You think of yourself before anything else. It is a choice and one begets another. It is poor judgement and selfishness at the root cause. Here, again, poor judgement is the root cause. As a mother, what good can come of putting your child on an unstable surface bordering a pit of vicious dogs? How much thinking was she really doing. Did she think that kid was going to remember this experience? She acted foolishly, without thought, and her actions took the life of someone else, not so different than drinking and driving. The mother is the one at fault here, no one else. As for prayers, who am I praying for and what good is it actually doing? I have no well-wishes for the foolish mother. I have deep sympathy for the father. The child, my prayers are also worthless there, as I cannot help the child either. So pray all you want, I just don't see what those prayers will do/ It is a lovely gesture but the reality is that making an example of this idiot mother whose foolishness got her son killed, that will have a more subsequent impact than anything else at this point.
Ed M November 11, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Really??? You don't see how this is so different???? Drinking then driving is not a tragic mistake - it is an irresponsible choice! This incident was a tragic accident that was not caused by being impaired! Who are you praying for? The family of Maddox! Are you that cold hearted???
Ryan November 11, 2012 at 01:33 PM
So drinking and driving is an irresponsible choice but putting an infant child up on the ledge of a pen filled with vicious animals is a mistake? The difference between the two based on your logic is impairment. Doing something dumb and dangerous while impaired and making the choice to be impaired in your view is different than making a dumb decision while not impaired. There are signs everywhere saying, "Don't stand on the ledge" and then another sign basically saying "knock it off." Here this mother made a conscious decision to be irresponsible. So would a better comparison be that she was texting while driving and killed her child, or how about if she dangled her child over the way Michael Jackson did and dropped it? Both are reckless endangerment. As for prayers, I don't see the value in wishing for them to feel better. Simply wishing isn't going to make it so or ease anyone else's pain. Making an example of a situation like this, so people think before making stupid decisions, might actually prevent pain for others in the future.
Pamela fabian November 11, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I've been saying the same thing all week. My 13 year old daughter ask me why the mother didn't jump in to save her child. I said thats a good question. If I was there i would have jumped in. I would have got hurt bad but, i don't think i would have died. I feel bad these people have to live with such a stupid mistake.
erika November 11, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I would argue that not being impaired makes this an even more egregious error than drinking and driving, when one would not be of "sound mind". I am certainly sympathetic to this family and have shed my own tears over the situation as well as donated a truck. However, while I am not unsympathetic to the mother/family, I don't think we have anyone else to whom we can assign blame except for the mother. I think we all need to step back and recognize that this was a tragic lapse in judgment, and others who do follow the rules should not be punished as a result. (not saying they shouldn't remove the dogs to another zoo, simply to not have that reminder, but I don't want to see other areas of the zoo being restricted due to this one horrible tragedy).
Sarah jobesJrnascar December 07, 2012 at 02:39 PM
the mother should be charged, it is her fault and not the zoo's or animals fault. Had she had put her child on a railing overlooking a lake and and he fell in, she would have pRobally been charged. I think the DA felt sorry for the family. Sorry she should have been charged. it is her fault that baby died

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