PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is removing the observation deck from the African Painted Dogs exhibit following the tragedy last month that left a 2-year-old boy dead.
The announcement was made Thursday morning immediately following the Allegheny County District Attorney’s visit to the zoo.
The D.A. had a meeting with the zoo director and the police officers who responded to the tragic accident. He’s now reviewing how to prevent future accidents.
Sources tell KDKA’s Marty Griffin that the observation deck will be removed fairly quickly. It looks like the platform will be replaced by a glass wall but there could be a fence.
In another major development, sources say the District Attorney Office has agreed to provide high-powered rifles for the zoo.
Sources tell KDKA’s Marty Griffin that the number of .357-caliber rifles that will be purchased for the zoo has not yet been determined.
Sources also say a highly-trained zoo response team, that apparently already has weapons, will most likely be trained in the use of the .357 rifle by Pittsburgh police at the city’s gun range.
“We are going to work together with the zoo and with these administrative and regulatory agencies, and we’re going to do as best we can to prevent this type of tragedy from ever happening again,” said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala last week.
He went inside the zoo Thursday morning to meet with zoo officials.
Along with plans to provide the zoo with rifles, the observation platform at the exhibit will also be taken down. It was there on Nov. 4 where the African Painted Dogs mauled 2-year-old Maddox Derkosh when he fell into the exhibit.
The District Attorney’s Office released this statement after the two-hour meeting that included the zoo’s CEO Dr. Barbara Baker.
“Dr. Baker advised the District Attorney’s Office that out of respect to the community and for the Derkosh family, the observation platform of the exhibit at issue would be removed.”
Sources close to the investigation tell KDKA’s Marty Griffin that right now it looks like platform will be replaced by the type of glass wall used at other exhibits around the zoo.
The zoo offered no comment on the meeting other than to say they will cooperate fully with agencies investigating the incident.