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The Pittsburgh Zoo and police are currently investigating the tragic death of a two-year-old boy who died after falling into an African painted dog exhibit.
Pittsburgh police Major Crimes Lt. Kevin Kraus told The Post-Gazette that the boy was placed on the top of the fence by his mother, then “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.”
An emergency dispatch supervisor told the Post-Gazette that the incident happened around 11:45 a.m. Sunday. The zoo and aquarium was shut down a half-hour after the boy fell and remains closed.
According to The Associated Press, the Allegheny County medical examiner will perform an autopsy on the boy before his name is released to the press.
It is still unknown if the boy was killed by the fall or if the 11 dogs had killed him. While police estimate that he fell 11 feet, zoo officials say that the fall was 14 feet.
The spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Steve Feldman, told the AP that the Pittsburgh Zoo did recently pass its review in September, exceeding all safety standards. Fatal attacks like this have happened at zoos in the past, but nothing like this has happened at the Pittsburgh Zoo.
Angela Cinti, 20, described the scene to the Post-Gazette. “The screams just kept coming and coming: 'Someone help. Someone has to do something.’”
Zoo President and Chief Executive Officer Barbara Baker told the press that the zoo hasn’t made a decision about the future of the exhibit, which opened in 2009.
Police have not interviewed the boy’s parents yet. They would also not state when the zoo plans to reopen.