Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tragic Death of a Kid at the Pittsburgh Zoo

I was on my search as to what I should blog about today until I have come across yahoo.com.ph - seeing a news about this two-year old kid who was killed at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Then, I got so interested in knowing the details and finding why this had happened.

Here are the recent news and posts about the said tragedy:

An outing to the Pittsburgh Zoo turned into tragedy on Sunday when a woman put her young son on top of a railing so he could get a better look at some wild African dogs.

Officials are still trying to piece together exactly what happened, but the mother apparently stood her son up on top of a wooden railing over the pen and was unable to catch him when he lost his balance. He fell 12-14 feet into the enclosure and was immediately attacked by the animals–sometimes called African Painted Dogs–as he lay prone. Police say they are awaiting an autopsy to verify whether the boy died on impact or if his death was caused by the mauling.

The animals–11 in all–were reigned in by zoo keepers except for one, which was so aggressive it had to be put down on the spot. Bystanders said they heard screams and the shots that rang out when that animal was killed, and describe it as a horrible tragedy.

“They are one of the most aggressive predatory animals in the wild,” animal expert Jack Hanna said. “I don’t care if a zookeeper, a policeman, a tranquilizer gun, whatever would have been right there, could not have helped. Sorry is not a word that I can even say…I don’t know what word to use. Just, my heart aches for everybody.”

2-Year-Old Dies In Pittsburgh Zoo's Wild Dog Exhibit
by The Associated Press

A mother's attempt to give her two-year-old son a better view of wild African dogs turned into a "horrific" tragedy at the Pittsburgh Zoo after the boy fell into the exhibit and was attacked by a pack of the animals as relatives and bystanders looked on.

Lt. Kevin Kraus of the Pittsburgh police said the attack happened at about 11:45 a.m. Sunday after the mother picked the child up and put him on top of a railing at the edge of a viewing deck. "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.

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.

Experts said the death is highly unusual.

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 boy or his mother, 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.

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