Child Mauled to Death by Dogs at Pittsburgh Zoo

(Image credit: Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery)

A toddler was mauled to death today after falling into the African painted dog exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

The boy, who was around 3 years old, fell 14 feet over a railing and into the exhibit, said Barbara Baker, director of the Pittsburgh Zoo.

"Visitors alerted the staff immediately and they went into emergency response mode," she said.

Zoo officials tried firing darts to scare the dogs away from the child, but the animals, which are pack hunters, did not immediately respond.

The dogs were eventually moved from the exhibit, with the exception of one, which had to be shot by a police officer after it continued to "be aggressive" to the boy, Baker said.

"Unfortunately by the time EMTs were able to get to him, the boy had passed away," Baker said.

The zoo has been closed until further notice.

The identity of the boy, who Baker said was visiting the zoo with his mother and family friends, has not yet been released.

"We've had the exhibit up since 2006 and we have not had any issues with the dogs," Baker said. "This is a tragic accident."