UPDATE: Child Killed by African Painted Dogs At Pittsburgh Zoo

According to media reports, the 2-year-old fell into the painted dogs exhibit and was mauled.

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.

According to the zoo's website, African painted dogs are the size of medium domestic dogs, weighing between 37 and 80 pounds and measuring 24-to-30 inches high. They are also known as African wild dogs, Cape hunting dogs, spotted dogs and painted wolves—they are classified as hunters and are endangered.

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.

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


Plum-Oakmont Patch will be monitoring developments on this story. Check back later for updates.


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Heather November 04, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Horrific. Those poor people.
lori November 04, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Prayers for all those involved... what a sad and horrible thing to happen.The animals just do what comes natural to them,and as horrible as it is, they are wild animals,so it is sad that a child has died,a mother lost a child, and an animal has been killed.I hope that safer barriers are installed for all involved and that this does not cause problems for the Pittsburgh (or any other) Zoo... because it is a wonderful place. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the child , and prayers for peace for the child.What a sad day!
Marsha Stein-Orowetz November 04, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Horrible...Horrible...Horrible....Both for the child and the mother watching her child get mauled to death.... My prayers and my thoughts...
gritty gerty November 05, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Why did the mother put the child on the railing? Not very smart!
Tonya November 05, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I am a mother, I could not imagine the agony the parents and family are going through. When I hear stories involving innocent children dying my heart is torn in two. My prayers go out to the Mother and family. As far as the dogs it is not their fault but such a sad & terrible situation for everyone involved. I am so sorry.
cynthia johnson November 05, 2012 at 04:50 PM
This was a horrible accident due to human error. You CANNOT put your child on a railing at the Zoo. Just like you CANNOT allow your infant child to sleep in the same bed with you because you can smother them and kill them. Although horrific, this couldve been prevented.
OWLoldwhitelady November 06, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Many accidents are due to human error. A parent who never did anything potentially dangerous to or with a child has only unborn children. God bless this mother and the rest of the family.


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