On Sunday, a two-year-old boy was put on top of a railing by his mother to watch a pack of African painted dogs at the Pittsburgh zoo, as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The boy fell into the enclosure from a height of 11-14 feet and the wild dogs immediately pounced on the child and mauled him. Upon arrival of the police, the boy was found dead.
Barbara Baker, president and chief executive of the Pittsburgh zoo said it was still not clear whether the boy died from the attack of the pack of wild dogs or from the fall. The incident occurred at about 11:48 a.m. According to the police, the boy was immediately attacked after falling into the enclosure.
Pittsburgh police Major Crimes Lt. Kevin Kraus said that the boy’s mother had put the child in a standing position on the railing when he lost balance. “Almost immediately after that he lost his balance, fell down off the railing into the actual pit and he was immediately attacked by 11 dogs,” said Kraus.
Though zoo officers came running to help and zookeepers were able to call off seven of the dogs, but four stayed on. While three remaining dogs moved off from the boy, the last wild dog was aggressive and the police had to shoot it.
The authorities have not released the identities of the boy and the mother, but it is known that the woman is 34-year-old and lives in Pleasant Hills, outside Pittsburgh. The boy’s father arrived on the scene as soon as he was notified.
The president of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium said that wild African painted dogs hunt in packs in the wild, and during the attack they exhibited their “pack mentality.” Though zookeepers kept shooting darts at them, the dogs couldn’t be stopped.