Sometimes the most interesting things at the zoo aren’t the animals, but the people who handle them. A former meerkat expert from the London Zoo has been ordered to compensate a monkey trainer after throwing a wine glass at her in a dispute surrounding a romantic relationship with a llama handler.
The Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that Caroline Westlake must pay Kate Saunders 800 pounds (approximately $1,235 US) for assaulting her. The dispute was over colleague Adam Davies, who had dated both women. Additionally, Westlake has received 12 months of community service for the assault.
Davies dated Saunders for five years before the relationship ended. He then pursued Westlake following the breakup. She declined, and Davies dated another coworker for 4 months. Following their breakup he asked Westlake out again, and she accepted.
The incident occurred at the zoo’s Christmas party on December 8. After Saunders allegedly made an insulting comment in regards to Westlake’s appearance, the two woman broke out into an argument. The quarrel escalated and resulted in Saunders being struck in the side of the face with a wine glass. The blow resulted in what the court judged called a “nasty” facial laceration that required stitches.
Westlake says that Saunders was the first to attack. She claimed that before striking Saunders with a wine glass, which she does not recall doing, Saunders had already punched her, held her backwards over the 30 foot balcony and spat at her.
Westlake has been banned from Zoological Society of London events for two years as a result of her actions. The London Zoo fired Westlake following the incident.