A 2-year-old boy was killed after he fell 11 feet off a railing at the Pittsburgh Zoo that his mother had put him on to see a pack of African painted dogs, news sources report.
After the boy fell into the pen, the wild dogs pounced and mauled him. Police said they were not sure if the cause of the boy's death was the fall or the dogs' attack, the Associated Press reported.
The names of the child and mother have not been released. She is 34 and lives outside Pittsburgh, NBC News reported.
When the child fell, zookeepers called off the dogs, and seven went into a back building. Three more moved away from the boy eventually, but the last dog would not come into the building, and police had to shoot it, Barbara Baker, chief executive of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium told the Associated Press.
The dogs are the size of medium domestic dogs, 2 to 2 1/2 feet high and 37 to 80 pounds. This type of dog is also considered endangered, NBC News reported.
Lt. Kevin Kraus of the Pittsburgh police described the accident as "horrific," the Associated Press reported.
Police and the Allegheny Council medical examiner's office are investigating the incident. Baker also told the Associated Press that the zoo, which had never had a visitor death, plans an internal investigation.