PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The parents of a 2-year-old boy who was fatally mauled after falling into a wild African dogs exhibit last fall have sued the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, claiming officials had ample warning that parents routinely lifted children onto a rail overlooking the exhibit so they could see better.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Common Pleas Court on behalf of Jason and Elizabeth Derkosh seeks unspecified damages in the Nov. 4 death of their son, Maddox.

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According to the paperwork, Maddox was at the zoo last November for zoo school. The suit includes pictures from the visit.

The boy fell from a wooden railing after his mother lifted him up to get a better look at the African Painted Dogs.

In all, Maddox had more than 220 injuries.

According to the lawsuit, other zoos across the country have more and better safeguards in place to keep children safe while viewing the dogs.

The suit goes on to argue not only did the zoo fail to protect Maddox, but every other visitor to the African Painted dog exhibit.

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The lawsuit claims the zoo’s management was warned before the tragedy, by at least one employee, that parents would lift their children to see the viewing enclosure “at least ten” times every day.

The suit claims that employee was told, “This is not your concern, go back to work.”

Philadelphia-based attorneys representing the family say the suit based on:

  • A litany of institutional lapses in exhibit design, safety and security.
  • Zoo management ignored warnings.
  • Zoo lacked an adequate emergency response plan.

The zoo released a statement saying, “We are unable to comment on any pending legal case.”

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Lynne Hayes-Freeland