In that lawsuit the boy’s parents claim that prior to the toddler’s death there were safety issues with the dog exhibit and that zoo officials were aware of them. They further allege that despite this knowledge, those officials did not take steps to address them. That lawsuit, which is still pending, was not the only legal action the zoo faced. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture commenced a review of the incident.
As a part of that review a hearing would have been conducted. That hearing was recently waived however, when the matter settled. The zoo agreed to pay the USDA a total of $4,550. As a part of that settlement the zoo did not admit any liability regarding the matter.
It’s hard for most people to imagine being harmed by an animal at a zoo since the idea behind these places is that they are a safe way to view wild animals. To that end there is an underlying assumption that the pens in which the animals are kept will keep both the animals, as well as patrons visiting the zoo, safe. As this case illustrates this is not always the case. While there is nothing that can be done to undo the horrible death of the young boy, a wrongful death lawsuit is one way to hold negligent individuals or entities responsible.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Zoo, feds reach settlement over mauling by African dogs,” Debra Erdley, Feb. 13, 2014