UPDATED: Child Killed In African Painted Dog Exhibit at Pittsburgh Zoo

The 2-year-old fell into the painted dogs exhibit and was mauled, according to media reports..

UPDATED: 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, of Pleasant Hills, 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 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.

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 for updates.

Steeler Fan November 04, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Come on how does a three year old fall into a dog pit?????
Michele Lombardo November 05, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Steeler fan, if you have ever been to the exhibit, you would see many kids climbing on the wood rails to look over the top. Or, as I am guilty of, people hold their kids over the rail so they can see. I think this was just a horrible accident and my heart goes out to this family!
hollie lambert November 05, 2012 at 04:07 PM
i completly agree with you my heart aches for this women . i have a 8 yr old today is her bd and a 2 yr old and i also have been guilty of wanting them to see better and be more close a terrible lesson taught to us all God bless them during this time . i pray God helps them in every way he can to heal . i lost sleep over this last night
Mary November 05, 2012 at 06:51 PM
There are signs all over the zoo telling parents not to let their children climb or sit on the railings for a reason. Bad things happen when you don't follow the rules and the laws of where you aren.
Kelly November 06, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Definitely sad. If she had to go back in time she would have never done it. It's a very unfortunate accident. I feel bad for the trauma the parents are experiencing and certainly the poor child!!! So So sad!!!


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