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Toddler at Zoo Was Mauled By Dogs


The Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium will reopen tomorrow after being closed today, a day after a Pleasant Hills toddler was mauled to death by dogs. The zoo will quarantine the African Painted dogs but they will not be euthanized.

Pittsburgh Zoo President Barbara Baker said there was nothing zoo personnel could have done to save a two-year old boy who fell into the African Painted Dogs exhibit shortly before noon Sunday.

“It happened so quickly, it happened literally in seconds, it was very, very quick. There was very, very little anybody could do,” she said at a tearful press conference at the zoo on Monday.

The boy was at the zoo with his mother and relatives. He fell from an observation deck, bounced twice on protective netting and then fell into the exhibit, where there were 11 African Painted Dogs. Zoo personnel lured away most of the dogs and Pittsburgh Police shot one that remained. 

 “He was actually not near the child, but we couldn’t get in the yard to get to the child….while we’re not happy about that; we understand it had to happen (the shooting of the dog).”

The dogs, the most endangered canine in the world, will be quarantined for at least a month. Zoo personnel is determining the future of the exhibit.

The zoo was inspected and accredited earlier this year by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Following this incident, the zoo will require an additional inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Pittsburgh Police Department is also investigating the incident, as well as an internal team at the zoo. 

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