2-year-old boy killed after falling into Zoo exhibit – Boy fell into exhibit early Sunday morning and was mauled by a pack of African Painted Dogs.
This past weekend, tragedy struck at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium when a 2-year-old boy fell into the African Painted Dog exhibit and was killed. The boy was being held up on the railing of the exhibit, and almost immediately slipped and fell 11 feet into the wild dog habitat. He missed the netting set in place to prevent such events as these from happening, and was immediately swarmed by the 11 dogs. The zoo was evacuated and has been closed until further notice.
As soon as the boy fell people notified zoo officials and they responded immediately. Seven of the dogs backed away from the boy when called, and three more were eventually drawn away from the boy. One dog that the zoo officials could not remove from the boy had to be shot. It is unclear whether the boy was killed by the fall or the mauling.
Zoo president and CEO Barbara Baker stated that, “The dogs were doing what the dogs normally do.” When the boy fell in, the reacted with an instinctual pack mentality.
Baker released an official statement soon after the incident:
“It is with heavy hearts we report that a tragic accident occurred Sunday at 11:45 a.m. when a young child fell into the African painted dog exhibit area and was killed.
Visitors alerted staff who immediately responded to the situation. A painted dog keeper was able to get 4 of the 11 dogs off exhibit when the first call went out that a child had fallen into the exhibit. Upon responding, a representative of the Veterinarian Department shot darts into the exhibit to scare away the dogs. Unfortunately the dogs were in pack mentality and not responding.
At the same time keepers attempted to enter the yard to lure the dogs away but were unable to reach the child. Keepers along with Pittsburgh Police continued to lure the dogs away however; one aggressive dog was shot and killed by an officer.
The accident is under investigation by both the Zoo and the Pittsburgh Police Department. The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium will remain closed until further notice.”
This is not the first incident of these dogs causing a problem at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Back in May of this year, a few of the dogs slipped under the fence and into an exhibit that is usually closed. The zoo was closed for an hour afterwards as a precaution.
The zoo has never had a death and plan to have an internal investigation into the incident.