London Zoo love rivals become embroiled in vicious fight after falling for the same llama keeper
In what's been branded a 'menagerie a trois', two female keepers at London Zoo fought 'tooth and claw' over the man looking after the llamas.
Published 05/09/2015 | 16:40
Two female keepers at London Zoo became embroiled in a vicious catfight over the llama keeper who ditched one and dated the other.
Caroline Westlake, who tended the meerkats, was sacked after hitting her love rival in the face with a glass that sliced open her cheek at London Zoo’s Christmas party.
Kate Sanders, who works in the tiger and monkey enclosures, was given a final written warning and banned from Zoological Society of London events for two years for her part in the brawl.
At the time of the fight, Miss Westlake, 30, was dating Adam Davies, also 30, who looks after the llamas and works in the children’s Animal Adventure area.
But before that he had been in a relationship for five years with Miss Sanders, 32.
An employment tribunal heard that after Mr Davies split from Miss Sanders he asked Miss Westlake out. She turned him down initially and Mr Davies began seeing another woman, who works in the zoo’s gift shop - before pursuing Miss Westlake a second time.
The couple tried to avoid Miss Sanders at work events but it was claimed at Central London Employment Tribunal that she would send to Mr Davies video, text and pictures when he was with his new girlfriend.
The tribunal heard the fight began at the Christmas party held in the zoo’s Prince Albert Suite on December 8 last year.
Miss Westlake, of Epsom, Surrey, told the tribunal that her love rival was “drunk and aggressive”.
“She shouted: ‘You’re dating my ex-boyfriend
“Kate then went on to shout in my face, ‘Everyone hates you, everyone says you are mad’. I replied: ‘They say same the same about you’, at which point Kate punched me on my jawline.
“As she punched me, I hit out blindly to protect my face, unaware of the drink I had been holding. Everything stopped and I realised Kate’s face had been cut. My recollection after that was Kate screaming, swearing and spitting in my face. She was spraying spit at me. I remember feeling helpless and terrified and unable to speak.”
It was also alleged Miss Sanders, of Crouch End, north London, then grabbed hold of Miss Westlake, bending her “right back over the balcony” with a 30ft drop below.
Miss Westlake, who worked at the zoo for four and half years, is suing the zoo for unfair dismissal on the basis she was treated more harshly than her one-time colleague and love rival.
Miss Westlake is also claiming disability discrimination because her employers had failed to address her attention deficit disorder and dyspraxia, a condition that affects coordination.
The zoo’s human resources director Fiona Evans told the tribunal: “We felt that there was a clear distinction in the seriousness of Caroline’s and Kate’s actions based on the undisputed evidence about Caroline glassing Kate.
“Kate was found to have engaged in fighting with Caroline which was more than just self-defence and which resulted in Caroline sustaining a bruise on her arm. However there was no evidence to show Kate had initially punched Caroline.”
The tribunal reserved its judgment.