Child Killed By African Dogs At Zoo Died In Several Agonizing Minutes

Mon, November 5, 2012 2:16pm EDT by 43 Comments
Pittsburgh Zoo Accident
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Poor baby. The 2-year-old boy who died at the Pittsburgh Zoo on Nov. 4 was killed after anguishing minutes of being attacked by the pack of wild dogs — not by the 14-foot fall itself.

Tragedy struck the Pittsburgh Zoo on Nov. 4 when a 2-year-old boy was viciously mauled to death by a pack of African painted dogs in front of horrified spectators. Zoo president Dr. Barbara Baker said during a press conference on Nov. 5 the baby fell from a barrier railing 14 feet high, landed into a safety net, but then bounced out and fell into the exhibit, where he was killed.

The zoo will remain closed as police and internal investigators look into the horrific crime — the first of any of its kind in the zoo’s more than 100-year history.

“Very unfortunately, in this situation, the dogs were doing what the dogs would normally do,” Dr. Baker said during a press conference from the Pittsburgh Zoo.

The child fell 14 feet from the barrier railing outside the African painted dog exhibit into a grassy yard where the dogs live. Dr. Baker said the boy died after several agonizing minutes from the wounds he suffered from the mauling attack, not from the fall itself.

She added that zoo officials acted appropriately per their official procedure, and that responders were on the scene within seconds. Although zoo keepers were able to lure some of the dogs away from the boy, it was deemed unsafe for workers to enter the exhibit itself..

She said witnesses reported seeing the baby fall down onto a safety net, designed to catch any falling objects, but since he was so small, he bounced twice on the net and then fell into the exhibit.

“We discourage people from letting their children sit on the railing…this is a horrible horrible tragedy, but the zoo has been here since 1898, and this is the first time we’ve had any type of visitor injury,” she said.

Dr. Baker said that the entire zoo is closed for the investigation, and the specific exhibit will remain closed throughout the winter. Any changes that need to be made will be in effect by the time it re-opens in the spring.

“The zoo feels terrible about this tragic accident, that this occurred at our zoo,” she said. “It’s our worst nightmare as zoo professionals.”

What do YOU think of the accident HollyMoms?

– Christina Stiehl

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