Pittsburgh, PA — A 2-year-old boy met a horrific end on yesterday after he fell into the African painted dog exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium and was subsequently mauled to death as relatives and bystanders watched, unable to help the boy.
The attack happened at about 11:45 a.m. Sunday after the boy’s mother picked him up and placed him on top of a railing at the edge of a viewing deck so that he could get a better view of the dogs. “Almost immediately after that he lost his balance, fell down off the railing into the pit, and he was immediately attacked by 11 dogs,” Lt. Kevin Kraus of the Pittsburgh police said. “It was very horrific.”
The boy fell 11 to 14 feet from the railing to the ground below, and it’s not yet known if it was the fall that killed the boy, or the pack of dogs that mauled him. Here’s an image of the viewing deck. It doesn’t look like it was high enough for a fatal fall, so one can only hope the boy was unconscious after he hit the ground and did not experience the attack that followed.
Zoo officials entered the enclosure within minutes and attempted to get the dogs away from the boy. The first group of zoo personnel were able to lure seven of the dogs into a secure and separated area. A second set of personnel began “throwing objects and some other techniques that they use” to secure three more dogs. One of the dogs refused to relinquish its prize and was shot several times by two Pittsburgh police officers.
The entire incident lasted around 5 minutes, according to witnesses. One witness described the problems zoo employees had with trying to get the dogs away from the boy. ”There were three dogs: one at his head, one on the left side of his neck and another one down by his leg. … A [zoo employee] got there and hopped over a fence with a rake and he was banging … trying to distract the dogs but they wouldn’t move,” she said. Information released from the zoo indicated that the dogs were in pack mentality and not responding to employees initial attempts to lure them away.
When in packs, these wild dogs are capable of taking down animals many times their size. To give you an idea at how good at killing they are, their hunts end in a kill 80 per cent of the time. Lions? 30 per cent. Police and zoo officials are investigating exactly how the boy fell into the dog’s enclosure. I cannot imagine placing my toddler on a rail that overlooked a pack of wild animals. Hell, I remember almost having an anxiety attack at the beach when I took my toddler on a pier for the first time.
Update: The boy fell into the small safety net located below the railing designed to catch small objects a visitor may drop, like cell phones or cameras. Unfortunately, he bounced out of it. Even worse, it has been confirmed that the dogs killed the boy, not the fall.Tags: Accident, Crime, Dogs, mauling, Pennsylvania, zoo