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Zoo Officials Consider Future Of African Painted Dogs Exhibit

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Mary Robb Jackson Mary Robb Jackson
Mary Robb Jackson joined KDKA-TV as a general assignment reporter in...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium was inspected over the summer and accredited by a national organization in September.

But inspectors will now be back, in light of the accident that left a little boy dead over the weekend. It’s a step that’s required. Meanwhile, zoo officials are considering the future of the exhibit.

“They clearly show that there’s total wildness in there,” said Dr. Greg Rasmussen who has studied the African Painted Dog for over 20 years and brought them here as part of a conservation project.

Video shows him watching the wild dog pack at the Pittsburgh Zoo. It’s the same overlook where the 2-year-old boy fell.

The zoo’s natural habitat is as close as possible to the terrain in the dog’s African homeland.

“It was very, very quick. There was very, very little anybody could do,” Dr. Barbara Baker, the zoo’s director, says there was little or no chance for the toddler.

The wild dogs are more successful hunters than lions.

However, poaching, farmers and diminishing territory have whittled down the Painted Dog population from half-a-million a century ago to just over 2,000 now worldwide.

That puts them on the endangered species list.

“These animals will not be euthanized,” says Dr. Baker.

But zoo administrators have not decided what will happen with the current exhibit.

“It’s too early to tell what we will do,” she added. “The overlook is closed off and remains so through the winter.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums are the oversight agencies.

Both recently gave the zoo high marks, finding no deficiencies, but they have contacted Dr. Baker since Sunday.

“USDA will come in and investigate,” said Dr. Baker. “They have to anytime there’s an incident.

The remaining 13 wild dogs are being quarantined for the next 30 days. They’re being kept in a holding area. The future if the Painted Dog Encounter here has yet to be determined.

RELATED LINKS:
Toddler’s Zoo Death ‘Traumatic’ For Family, Witnesses (11/5/12)
More Pittsburgh Zoo News

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