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UPDATE: Child Killed at Pittsburgh Zoo Exhibit

Here's an update on the 2-year-old boy from Whitehall who fell into the painted dogs exhibit at the zoo and was mauled.

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 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, who was from Whitehall, 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.

Two witnesses commented on Patch.com about the horrific scene.

A person using the name Dreamweaver wrote: "I was at the zoo today in the restaurant right outside of the Painted dog exhibit and witnessed it...very scary. We have often thought just how unsafe that exhibit is, nothing to stop anyone from falling. Nothing I want to witness again."

Kathleen Lucas was another witness who shared her comments on Patch.

"I was there, at the exhibit. It did not take several minutes for the dogs to attack, they did so immediately. It was a horrible scene that I wish I was not part of and witness. My prayers go out to the mom and family."

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 on Upper St. Clair Patch for updates.

Guest November 05, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Thoughts and prayers are with the family
m November 06, 2012 at 06:29 AM
The zoo had a net to catch falling articles , so they knew things do fall from there especially kids, they climb everything., The zoo should of had more safety , every dangerous predater exhibit should have an armed keeper, swimming pools have more protection...These dogs were born and raised in captivity , nursed by a domestic dog and they see people all day long , they know the difference between people and food and why would they have so many of them when all you need is one .The people running this zoo didnt even have guns with bullets they had to call 911, The keepers running exhibits should not be afraid to go in the exhibit they are in charge of what is there use , 2of them stood 10ft from the baby boy when he fell in and did NOTHING.. I dont care how endangered they say these mutts are , One human life is worth more than all the animals in the world. All those dogs should have been shot and the little boys remain taken from there stomach , These dogs disembowel him alive and ate him alive and now digested..Whats wrong with these people ,To listen to him cry and to do nothing and to watch this baby being torn to shredds and not even a try , They should be all ashamed and imprisoned especially those who ok'd the safety. MAY GOD BRING COMFORT MERCY to your family and to all that knew and loved him . AMEN
cheyenne Ferrell November 10, 2012 at 05:34 AM
yes these animals see people all day long but when they see something fall they more than likely assume its some sort of new way to get food yes they may have been raised in captivity but any animal can become aggressive with in seconds. the mother and father both should be punished for neglect
m November 12, 2012 at 05:00 PM
The kid was still alive , local kdka radio with marty griffin had a witness that said the 2 year old was in a bracing position with his arms over his head , no one came for quite a while and when someone did come it was a female veternarian with cruches hoping on one foot with a tranqulizer gun having a hard time loading with no tranquilizer and then fired in the air , while the kid was still getting torn up, he said there were several people screaming for help but they got a female veternarian with a busted leg who couldnt fire a gun correctly. The dogs are fairly small and everyone their should have jumped in they dont like confritation. Jack Hanna was also on kdka radio saying it was over in seconds when the witnesses say different .He is also a flake for not carry a gun teaching kids not to be cautious and teaching the proper safety tools and weapons of zookeepers.That enclosure has been dangerous for years and zoos with out armed zookeepers should be held accountable for their niave wreckless no action taking ways. Here in pittsburgh kennywood park has armed officers , The animal control has armed officers so why does the pittsburgh zoo have kids and people who have no idea what a firearm is and how to keep the public safe working there. Its a gross negligence on the zoo and I want to know who keeps these zoos in line because the zoo association obviously can not , Goverment should have more regulations so these animal flakes dont get any more people killed.
m November 12, 2012 at 05:03 PM
The kid was still alive , local kdka radio with marty griffin had a witness that said the 2 year old was in a bracing position with his arms over his head , no one came for quite a while and when someone did come it was a female veternarian with cruches hoping on one foot with a tranqulizer gun having a hard time loading with no tranquilizer and then fired in the air , while the kid was still getting torn up, he said there were several people screaming for help but they got a female veternarian with a busted leg who couldnt fire a gun correctly. The dogs are fairly small and everyone their should have jumped in they dont like confritation. Jack Hanna was also on kdka radio saying it was over in seconds when the witnesses say different .He is also a flake for not carry a gun teaching kids not to be cautious and teaching the proper safety tools and weapons of zookeepers.That enclosure has been dangerous for years and zoos with out armed zookeepers should be held accountable for their niave wreckless no action taking ways. Here in pittsburgh kennywood park has armed officers , The animal control has armed officers so why does the pittsburgh zoo have kids and people who have no idea what a firearm is and how to keep the public safe working there. Its a gross negligence on the zoo and I want to know who keeps these zoos in line because the zoo association obviously can not , Goverment should have more regulations so these animal flakes dont get any more people killed.

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