2-Year Old Killed At Zoo: Fell Into Wild Dog Pen

    November 5, 2012
    Amanda Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

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.”

  • http://facebook shanece

    what a shame those dogs dont deserve to live.it was Gods fault he decided to make those wild dogs kill the boy plus he invented those dogs.R.I.P

    • reason

      did your mom put retard in your juice this morning? Should all snakes, humans, insects, fish, and every other species be killed to because people die from nature all the time. and its the parents fault for holding him up there anyway sorry but its the truth.

      • felicia

        I highly doubt the mother meant for her 2 year old to slip and fall and be mauled by wild african dogs! Toddlers are so persistent that sometimes you just wanna make them happy and i can just hear the toddler now wanting to stand on the ledge! Mistakes happen and unfortunately some are more tragic than others :( so sorry for her loss RIP baby boy

        • reason

          well of course I wasn’t trying to imply it was intentional on the mothers part, I meant that she held him above the barriers which I have been to zoos and they always have signs warning you against that. so while no it was not intentionally her fault, she should not of held her kid over the barrier of a 14 foot drop into a wild dog pen, she should of held him a foot or 2 back or just high enough for his head to be over the barrier.

          • Will

            ^What Reason said. Some people (Shanece) are too stupid for words.

        • realparent

          Make your child happy and put him on a ledge? I have a two year old and an 8 and 17 year old and I wouldn’t even come close to doing something like that. People take life and safety for granted. The two year old didn’t ask to be stood on the rail. Such an idiotic thing. Being a good parent means you don’t get to make mistakes of that nature. She will live with that guilt for the rest of her life. Yes, if he died from impact it would have been much better than being eaten alive by wild dogs.

    • f

      are you a retard?, sounds like it to me!!

    • janey

      It was the mother’s fault, period. Sadly an innocent child paid dearly for her ignorance, stupidity, carelessness, and negligence.

    • SHELLY

      how is it the dogs fault and why would you bring “god” into this? It’s clearly the mother’s poor decision making as a parent. The dog were acting naturally. The mother should have done what she did. Very irresponsible. and please there is no “god” so no “god” did not make this happen. Read a real book for a change. you don’t know how annoying it is for bible pushers to say it was an imaginary character’s fault that this happened. OK then it was Happy Potter’s fault that this happened because he is as real as you so called “god” is. it’s the 21st century I think it’s time that people take responsibility for their actions and not a made up person.

      • Jacqueline

        Horrible!!! but unfortunately was the mom fault, she was neglected with her kid.

  • felicia

    What a sad tragedy! I feel for that mother, being a mother of a 2 year old myself I can’t imagine her pain! Something so harmless turned into a horrific tragedy! :(

  • Sabine

    I’m with reason on this one. The mother should have known better. Or at least been holding on to her son. From what the article says, he lost his balance, which means she wasn’t there supporting him like she should have been if she was to have him stand on that railing. And even so, in EVERY zoo there are signs that warn against standing on the railing. She should have known better and she deserves what came to her. Her child however did not deserve to die because of her stupidity.

  • Adoptadog

    I agree with Reason exceptI do feel it was the mothers fault. I have seen this display.It was a 12-14 ft drop. Barriers ,fencing etc. for people safety. The dogs could not get out. The mother was totally at fault for risking this. A toddler in most cases will NOT stand still and balanced on a small board?? Come on, wake up. I dont care how much they whine or fuss-safety of your child is the priority. Would you hold your child over a balcony aka Michael Jackson style? No, I think not

    • SHELLY

      I agree with you 100%. I sometimes wonder what people especially parents are thinking.

    • Dinky

      I’m distressed with the importance some are pointing out…..”there is always a sign telling you not to stand on the railings” People we do not need signs to tell us this is not the right choice to make. Common sense dictates that the possible consequence of putting a baby on a zoo railing can be dire. We do not need signs to make these decisions for ourselves, We need to think things through. In these types of circumstances a toddler should not be allowed to win an argument because the parent is worn down by them. Shame on those who are bad caretakers of the children entrusted to them.

      • Amanda

        Hahaha… Agree :) Just like with McDonald’s… Needing to tell people that COFFEE is HOT.

    • realparent

      Michael Jackson was at least holding onto to his child. This woman puts a toddler on a board above an animal enclosure and then decides to not hold onto him. I hope they drug tested her. Two-year olds fall even when their standing on solid ground. Of course he’s gonna lose his balance on a board, he’s not Gabby Douglas, and I don’t think she would have even stood on that board above a 11 foot drop and wild dogs.

  • janey

    The mother should be charged with endangering a minor and negligence. She and only she is responsible for this innocent child’s death.


    This is so sad…but yes I would have to blame the mother not the Zoo at all. She obviously had no common sense. Why would you allow and place your child on the top of the fence know how big the drop is? Very irresponsible!

  • http://yahoo. Michael

    I can’t help but feel that Obama is some how responsible.

    • http://yahoo.com shelly

      No, michael, you are responsible.

      • True story

        You are stupid as hell racist no doubt

        • Mighty Mouse

          He’s kidding, for god’s sake. Lighten up. Obama is not responsible for this event.

          Everyone knows it’s Biden’s fault.

  • http://yahoo.com shelly

    This was an accident!! A horrible one but an accident. An autopsy will be done to determine if the toddler was already dead from his fall. If this was the case, then the child didnt feel any pain from the dog’s mauling. The mom was just trying to make her kid happy, he wanted to see the dogs and she complied. She should have not done that, it’s too late to judge. The animals are not at fault, they are predatory and aggressive. How many times will mother nature teach us not to get close to danger?

    • Dave

      Well Shelley in answer to your question “How many times will mother nature teach us not to get close to danger?” EVERY DAMN TIME,like someone said earlier in the post,we as human beings claim to be the most intelligent species.but do not want to be held accountable for anything. the vast majority of idiots always wants to blame something or someone. well we don’t have the time or resourses to idiot proof the world for all the dummies out there.besides it’s no fun for the rest of us trying to live life. So if you can’t handle a sunday at the zoo.stay home.

  • Hillary

    Where is the GLASS that usually encloses these animals in, so accidents like this are prevented? I blame the zoo on this one. This screams safety hazard to me! People do stupid things and to protect your company glass or a cage like mechanism should have been put up especially since these animals are so aggressive. That’s like having a little 4ft fence around the lions! Ha! People and their stupidity!!

    • Screendo

      wo bro the mom should have been their with her kid

    • Adoptadog

      Hillary – the viewing area is above where the animals are…they cannot climb or jump up a 12-14 ft fence/ wall . No glass is needed as the animals cannot get near the people.There is a fenced and wooden platformed secure area to view. This was caused by the mother and her lack of judgement,NOT the animals, and NOT the zoo. This area is safe, secure for viewing from above the ground for safety reasons. NOT for hanging over or standing on a handrail. My heart is sad for this innocent precious loss of a life due to poor parenting – that is where the blame lies.

    • Sandra Drate

      I totally agree w/you.

  • What a World

    Let’s be honest people!
    Any parent that allowes a 2 yr. old or a child of any age to balance 14 feet above a pit of 11 african wild dogs, nolonger wants to be a parent!!! As a parent and human being my heart goes out for the victim (child) not the parent who put the child in danger!
    Remember we are in a world where people drive their vans into lakes with their toddler children strapped in car sets- remember that story? She said was car jacked but was not. To me this is another creative way of getting rid of your child and try to get away with it. Because most people would say why would a parent do such a thing? Ask yourself this question would you have done this as a parent??? This is not like having a child roll off of a bed!

    Anyone who can relate or justify as to why a parent in their right mind would do this, needs to be evaluated and visited by their states child welfare department.

    • Amanda

      Valid. Excellent point. Either she was retarded or had bad intentions.

    • Valerie

      YES> YES> YES! I have to lean towards that way of thinking because WHO in their RIGHT MIND would DO such a thing! UNTHINKABLE!

  • Lori

    Shame on the parents for not being more careful. The zoo shouldn’t be held responsible for inadequate parents!!!

  • Screendo

    Where was the mom when the kid fell into the pen. And you cant blame the dogs its there instinct thats the only real moving food they ever had

  • Diva4Jesus

    @michael: Some people will use anything for which to blame Obama, if it’s a negative event, even if he obviously had nothing to do with it.

  • Sue

    Yup…its the mother’s fault. Two year olds are “all over the place”. You can’t sit them down for a second, let alone trust them to be ok, balancing them on a wooden rail. The mother is stupid. I don’t have any children, however; I KNOW not to put a child on a wooden rail, dangling over danger, just “to make him happy”…

  • Amanda

    That mother should face severe child neglect or reckless endangerment charges. What an idiot.

    • Charlotte

      I agree, totally irresponsible

  • Gordon Speake

    Thanks for reassuring us, Elizabeth Vargas, when you said that you hoped that the child died on impact from the fall. Please, Elizabeth, shut up! Your editorial comment is not needed! Comment on the irresponsibility & child endangerment of the mother, instead. Put yourself to some good.

  • Charlotte

    Stupid Mother !!! Because of her stupidity, an animal had to be killed. What an a**hole.

    • Jeff

      I agree sympathy for the child disdain for the mother and anger the innocent dog was shot.

    • momof2

      I can not believe the insensitive remark you made, Charlotte…A child lost his life because of his mother’s poor judgement and you are worried about the animal??!! I by no means condone the abuse or neglect of an animal but plz show some respect for that baby!!

    • http://webpronews mimi

      My sentiments exactly. It wasn’t the poor dogs fault. They aren’t trained not to attack. They’re called “wild dogs” for a reason. The mother definately is an A..hole.

  • Dennis

    Cause of death is, at this point, irrelevant. The wild animals acted they way they do – like wild animals. Tragically, a little life was lost due to the GROSS NEGLIGENCE of the irresponsible woman, who calls herself that little boys mother. SHE should be brought up on charges. She should be held accountable. For God’s sake, at what point do we, as human beings, the so-called intelligent species, take responsibility and put the blame solely where the blame belongs. On the mother and her ridiculous decision to place that little boy on a railing. An endangered animal is shot and killed for acting the way it should and we sit here and debate this?? Mother + actions = negligent homicide or at the very least, manslaughter. And pray to God she does not have any other children who are reliant on her ridiculous decision making.

  • http://www.dragonmischief.com Patrish

    Once again a parent show poor or indifferent judgment. You never take chances with kids; you always expect the unexpected. This was probably not ‘one time’ thing. She probably been distracted before, etc. Such a shame – horrible tragedy for all.

  • ProudMother83

    Yes, the mother did make a poor decision. It doesn’t mean she is a horrible mother, instead of bashing her, show some damn sympathy!

    • Dennis

      Absolutely NOT. One who calls herself a “mother” does not act irresponsibly by placing a child on a railing, simply to “get a better look”. What excuse will you use for her not reading the MULTIPLE signs posted EVERYWHERE warning the dangers of doing just what she did? Sympathy? Really?? You are a prime example of what is wrong with people. The MOTHER is to blame and she should feel that guilt for being responsible for her child’s death, for the rest of her life.

    • Dennis

      Oh and I do have sympathy. An abundance of sympathy. For her dead toddler.

      • Valerie

        Sorry, I have to agree with Dennis…no I’m not sorry. That mother was an idiot for putting her kid up there, just for a “better look.” Don’t people THINK??? There are warning signs posted, if your child wants a better look then go to the library and pick up a video they can watch safely at home. JEEEEEEEEEZUS…
        If ANY good can come of this it’s the next would be stupid idiot of a parent will NOT make this same mistake!

    • http://yahoo Jessica

      You need help to…

    • jeffery

      she needs to be charged with neglect, and stupidity

    • realparent

      It doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a horrible mother. But it does mean she was a horrible mother that day.

  • Doesn’t matter

    1) Physically this should have been impossible. Zoo owners have an obligation to protect their patrons from the animals and vice versa. Besides, you’d think zoo officials would have learned by now how imperative it is to significantly minimize deadly accidents, as well as their litigious exposure, with extensive precautionary measures – at least beyond a railing and a warning sign.

    2) Commonsensically this should have never happened. The mother placed her son on the rail and apparently let go. What?!?! This isn’t hindsight stuff here, folks. Foresight with a modicum of common sense tells you this isn’t a good idea. And by good idea I mean ridiculously unsafe. The risks infinitely outweigh the rewards. One Planck’s time of a second is more than enough to weigh those odds prior to acting so senselessly.

    3) I’m no hero and certainly not a tough guy, but you better believe that those animals would be playing tug-of-war with my entrails long before they caught wind of my child in that pen. In other words, I’m jumping in to do everything humanly possible to save my child. This is a no-brainer for me as I would willingly die if it meant saving my children.

  • http://yahoo Jessica

    This was very irresponsible of the mother. She should have been intelligent enough to first of all not put her child in jeopardy. Secondly, I would have jumped in and protected my child with all my strength and might, I would have let them eat me alive first. This is horrible. You have people who would die to have children and you have someone who has them and don’t know how to take care of them. It’s sad I hope that baby RIP. God Bless

  • http://webpronews mimi

    The mother was an idiot. I can’t ask what was she thinking because obviously she wasn’t. They put up barriers for a reason. The baby didn’t climb himself. She was the adult, the responsible one. From the pictures he could see through the railings, there was no need to put him on top of them. Would she also have let him hang over the side of the Grand Canyon? I just can’t believe her.

  • Steelergirl

    first of all..I would be the first 1 to blame the mom. But I am sure she got and will get her punishment over and over again and will for the rest of her life. I just really hope this teaches other people lesson so this will never happen again. It is easy to point the finger but I just pray this will prevent this stupidity from happening again.
    Second of all I would do everything humanly possible to save my child by jumping in myself and fight those dogs off as much as I could! It makes me sick just thinking about it.