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2-year-old boy killed at Pa. zoo exhibit

PITTSBURGH — A 2-year-old boy visiting the Pittsburgh Zoo was killed Sunday when he fell off a railing, which his mother had put him on top of to view a pack of African painted dogs. The animals pounced on the child and mauled him, police said.

It was not clear whether the boy died from the 11-foot fall into the wild dog exhibit area or from the attack, said Barbara Baker, president and chief executive of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

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When the boy fell, other visitors immediately told staff members, who responded along with Pittsburgh police.

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, officials say.

The zoo was closed, and it was not clear when it would be reopen, authorities said.

Authorities did not immediately 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 dogs are about as big as medium-size domestic dogs, 2 to 2½ feet high 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.

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