Toddler dies after zoo plunge
2-year-old boy dies after fall and African wild dog attack at zoo.
A 2-year-old boy slipped off guard railings at a Pittsburgh zoo in the US, plunging the tot approximately 3 metres into the African wild dog enclosure where he was immediately mauled by the animals, reports Huffington Post. The boy's mother allegedly placed him on the railings "to get a better view of the exhibit". The boy died from his injuries, although authorities are uncertain whether it was the fall or wounds from the animal attack which killed him.

The zoo was closed following the attack of the African wild dogs, at least 11 of which were said to have attacked the boy in a pack as soon as he fell into the enclosure. Seven dogs retreated when confronted by keepers, three more were forced to retreat, and  one dog was eventually shot when it persisted in attacking the boy.The guard railing has as a further protective measure a surrounding mesh, although the mesh is “only designed to catch small objects such as dropped cellphones, and not people”.

*Update:Tuesday 06 November: Officials have now determined that the boy died as a result of the dog attacks rather than the fall. He was apparently too light for the protective mesh to catch him, and bounced twice before landing in the enclosure. The dogs attacked within seconds, and, despite zoo officials and the zoo vet arriving just half a minute later, the boy was unfortunately beyond rescuing.

Formidable carnivores

The African wild dog is the 2nd largest wild canid in the world behind the grey wolf at 75cm tall and weighing between 18-36kg. It is also said to have the greatest bite-force quotient (BFQ) of any carnivore in the world at 142, this related to a diet of meat and bone.

The mauling at the US zoo is reminiscent of occasional attacks and maulings at local game farms, conservation areas and zoos in SA, although when these do take place, they are generally related to visitors ignoring safety regulations or animals which attack their keepers.

Do you stick to the safety rules at zoos and other animal exhibits?

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