The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

November 5, 2012

Boy, 2, dies after fall, dog attack at Pa. zoo

PITTSBURGH — A mother’s attempt to give her 2-year-old son a better view of wild African dogs turned into a fatal tragedy after the boy fell into the exhibit and was attacked by a pack of the animals as relatives and bystanders looked on.

The mother had picked the child up and put him on top of a railing at the edge of a viewing deck at the Pittsburgh Zoo late Sunday morning, Lt. Kevin Kraus of the Pittsburgh police said.

“Almost immediately after that he lost his balance, fell down off the railing into the pit, and he was immediately attacked by 11 dogs,” Kraus said. “It was very horrific.”

It’s not yet clear whether the boy died from the fall or the attack, said Barbara Baker, president of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Zoo officials at first estimated the boy fell 14 feet, but police said it was 11. It’s not clear which is correct.

The Allegheny County medical examiner planned an autopsy Monday, and the boy’s name was not expected to be released until that was complete.

Authorities said that zoo staff and then police responded “within minutes,” but visitors described that time as being filled with screams for help. Zookeepers called off some of the dogs, and seven of them immediately went to a back building. Three more eventually were drawn away from the child, but the last dog was aggressive and police had to shoot the animal.

Steve Feldman, a spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said no one he’s spoken to can recall any deaths of children at an accredited zoo over the last 40 years or more. Feldman said the Pittsburgh Zoo successfully completed its 5-year review in September, which means it meets or exceeds all safety standards.

Authorities didn’t release the name of the woman, but say she is 34 years old and lives in Pleasant Hills, just outside Pittsburgh. The boy’s father arrived on the scene soon after the accident, police said.

The zoo was immediately closed, and it was not clear when it will reopen, authorities said.

The so-called painted dogs are about as big as medium-sized domestic dogs, and 37 to 80 pounds, according to the zoo. They have large, rounded ears and dark brown circles around their eyes and are considered endangered.

The attack happened in a 1.5 acre exhibit called the Painted Dog Bush Camp that’s part of a larger open area where elephants, lions and other animals can be seen. Visitors walk onto a deck that is glassed on the sides, but open in front where the roughly four-foot railing is located.

In May, some of the dogs crawled under a fence and escaped into a part of the exhibit that’s usually closed. The zoo was on lockdown for about an hour as a precaution.

Past fatal attacks at have prompted zoos around the nation to review safety features of their exhibits. In 2007 a tiger jumped over a wall at the San Francisco zoo, killing one visitor and wounding two others. Authorities first said the wall was 18 feet high, but a review found it was just 12 ½ feet.

In September a man jumped off an elevated viewing train at the Bronx Zoo in New York and was severely mauled by tigers.

Kraus said there was nothing to prevent visitors to the painted dog exhibit from jumping into the exhibit area.

Police and the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office are investigating, and they haven’t yet interviewed the mother and father, who are receiving grief counseling.

Baker said the zoo, which has never had a visitor death, will also investigate. She said no decision has been made yet on the future of the exhibit.

___

1
Text Only
AP story section
  • State to reopen Juvenile Home DES MOINES -- A district court judge on Wednesday ordered the state to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home, telling Gov. Terry Branstad he cannot unilaterally change a law approved by the state Legislature. Judge Scott Rosenberg said the home in Toledo was

    February 6, 2014

  • Panel OKs ban on remote abortion pill distribution DES MOINES -- A legislative panel approved a measure Wednesday that would ban the remote distribution of abortion pills, a proposal the bill's sponsor said is intended to delay the procedure and give women more time to change their minds. The subcomm

    February 6, 2014

  • Sioux City gambling group halts local grants SIOUX CITY -- The nonprofit that holds the gambling license for the Argosy Sioux City riverboat casino has voted to temporarily stop sending grants to local charities and government agencies. A legal dispute with the operator of the casino, Penn Nati

    January 15, 2014

  • Davenport pays, apologizes to hearing impaired man DAVENPORT (AP) -- The city of Davenport has issued an unusual apology to a former alderman after a police employee was caught on tape saying that he intentionally knocked softly on the hearing-impaired man's door when responding to a service call. Th

    January 15, 2014

  • Budget Branstad presents budget for next fiscal year DES MOINES -- Gov. Terry Branstad offered a budget proposal Tuesday that includes a tax break for veterans, a tuition freeze for college students and incentives to encourage Internet expansion in rural Iowa, a more modest list of priorities one year

    January 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gov. restores more felons' voting rights IOWA CITY (AP) -- Gov. Terry Branstad restored voting rights to more felons in 2013 than the prior two years combined, but thousands of others remain disenfranchised under a 2011 policy change. Data released by the governor's office to The Associated

    January 15, 2014

  • Man fatally shot at Fla. theater over texting WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) -- A 71-year-old retired police officer accused of shooting a man dead in a Florida movie theater told authorities that "he was in fear of being attacked" during Monday's confrontation. Curtis Reeves is charged with second-de

    January 15, 2014

  • Iowa Senator: Congress must confirm election board DES MOINES -- An Iowa senator asked a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday to confirm appointees to a federal election commission so a decision can be made about whether Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is properly using money for voter-fraud investig

    January 9, 2014

  • School Discipline Gov't: End overly zealous discipline in schools WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Obama administration is urging schools to abandon overly zealous discipline policies that civil rights advocates have long said lead to a school-to-prison pipeline that discriminates against minority students. The wide-ranging

    January 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Governor, lawmakers set modest goals for 2014 DES MOINES -- After reaching bipartisan agreements on several major policy initiatives last year, Gov. Terry Branstad said Wednesday that he is setting more modest expectations for the 2014 legislative session. Speaking at The Associated Press' annua

    January 9, 2014

AP Video
Facebook
National News