On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium director, Barbra Baker announced that the African Painted dog exhibit will remain closed and the dogs are going to be sent to other zoos.
This is due to the death of 2 year old Maddox Derkosh, back in November, when he slipped out of his mother’s arms and fell into the Painted Dogs exhibit. The boy was killed almost instantly and the zoo keepers were able to call of all but one dog, which they had to shoot.
Baker made a statement saying, “The main reason for closing the exhibit is because we recognize that the family, the zoo family, the Pittsburgh community at large all know we had a tragic accident at the zoo and we need time to heal. We’re all moms and dads, so we all recognize how painful this is.”
Due to the tragic incident, there has been multiple investigations by the Allegheny County district attorney’s office. Baker spoke in an interveiw saying that they did not find anything against the zoo and no criminal charges would be made against them.
The investigation was officially closed with a statement issued by Mike Manko, spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, saying, “Our investigation into last year’s death of Maddox Derkosh revealed no criminal conduct on behalf of anyone associated with the Pittsburgh Zoo, Unless the U.S. Department of Agriculture discovers any deficiencies in their final report that would convince us to revisit that position our investigation will be closed.”
As for the dogs at the exhibit, Baker stated that four of the dogs have already been shipped to other zoos, 2 more are to be leaving soon, and the remaining four dogs will leave in the fall. Baker did not elaborate on which zoos the dogs are going to, but did say that all of the zoos have existing dog exhibits, so they will be in good care.
Along with getting rid of the dogs, the zoo had removed the observation deck that the boy fell from and re-landscaped the painted dog exhibit to open room for new projects.