The mother of a 2-year-old boy who died after falling into a
pit of African wild dogs at the Pittsburgh Zoo stood him up
on a railing before he fell and was immediately attacked by
11 dogs, police said.
The boy was visiting the zoo with his 34-year-old mother, who
had put him on the railing for a better view of the animals,
known as African painted dogs, police said.
The zoo was closed immediately after the incident on Sunday
and remained shut on Monday.
Authorities are trying to determine if the boy died from the
fall or the attack, Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane
Richard said on Monday.
Eleven dogs swarmed the boy after he fell. Zookeepers rushed
to the exhibit area housing the animals, firing darts to
frighten them away from the child before police arrived.
Zoo staff secured 10 of the dogs but police entered the pit
and fired multiple gunshots to kill the last dog, which was
particularly aggressive toward the child and the officers,
African painted dogs are endangered and native to sub-Saharan
Africa, according to the National Geographic website.
The animals have an average size of just over 2 feet to 3.5
feet (0.6 meters to 1 meter). They are also known as Cape
hunting dogs or painted dogs because of their mottled coats
with patches of red, black, brown, white and yellow fur.