Boy, Maddox Derkosh, mauled by wild dogs at Pittsburgh Zoo "didn't have a chance"


Zoo officials said the 11 dogs in the exhibit, which are territorial by nature, went into a pack mentality and attacked the boy when he hit the ground.


Chris Jackson

Police have released the name of a boy, 2, who was killed when he fell into the African wild dog enclosure at Pittsburgh Zoo. 

Maddox Derkosh, from Pittsburgh, died after his mother, Elizabeth, 33, lifted him onto a railing to get a better look at the wild dogs, the Tribune Review reported. 

But the little boy lost his footing and fell 14 feet onto a mesh net and bounced into the pen where he was set upon by 11 African painted wild dogs, zoo officials said. 

An autopsy report released today revealed Maddox survived the fall but had no chance of survival against the pack of dogs.

Neighbour, Rachel Majcher, told the Tribune Review the Derkosh family were devoted parents.

“They went nowhere without Maddox,” said Majcher, 33.

“I cannot imagine the dark cloud that is following them.”

She said Maddox was a very happy child and she last saw him on Halloween, dressed in a Superman costume. 

More from GlobalPostBoy fell into wild dog enclosure at Pittsburgh Zoo after mother lifted him onto railing for a better view

At a press conference today, the zoo's president, Dr. Barbara Baker, was visibly upset as she explained how the tragedy on Sunday happened, CBS reported.

She said that staff responded immediately, but it was too late and too dangerous for them to go into the exhibit.

Baker believes that because the dogs are territorial in nature, they quickly began to attack the little boy.

As witnesses screamed for help, the zoo followed its policy by firing dummy darts at the animals to spook them.

Baker said zoo officials did not fire live darts into the enclosure because it could have struck the boy. 

A police officer was forced to kill one of the dogs with a gunshot because it would not get away from Maddox.

The dogs have been placed in quarantine.

The zoo will reopen tomorrow, Tuesday, but the painted dogs exhibit will remain closed through the winter, Baker said.