by Vancovuer Sun
An animal rights protester says she suffered a bloody lip and nose after a Greater Vancouver Zoo worker waved an industrial leaf blower in her face on Saturday.
Sarah Fox, who belongs to the group Liberate GVZoo Animals, was leading chants on her megaphone outside the Aldergrove zoo while a maintenance worker was going about his job clearing the parking lot of debris.
In a video posted on Facebook, the unnamed maintenance worker can be seen directing his leaf blower at the faces of the protesters.
“The force of the leaf blower pushed the megaphone into my face,” Fox said. “I touched my finger to my upper lip and I saw blood … the other protesters told me ‘your nose is bleeding … your lips are bleeding.”
“There weren’t any leaves. We felt he was just sent out to make noise to drown out our voice,” said Fox. “At first he was just moving back and forth trying to minimize our sound with the sound of the leaf blower … then he got closer to us and started blowing at us.”
Langley RCMP, who were at the zoo observing the protest, ruled the incident was an accident and not an assault.
Cpl. Holly Largy, Langley RCMP’s media relations officer, says the attending officer reported that Fox “stepped into the way of the blower.”
Fox doesn’t believe the police officer had a good view of the incident.
“The one officer told me that I must have been holding the megaphone too close to my face. He didn’t see what happened and was making an assumption,” Fox said. “I use a megaphone a lot … I know how to hold one.”
In an email to the protesters and media, Jody Henderson, general manager of the Greater Vancouver Zoo, said the zoo regretted the incident and the “now disciplined employed acted on his own initiative contrary to our policies, protocols and practices.”
Henderson said the zoo is taking steps to ensure no further incidents occur between the zoo and Fox’s group, or “any other group that may hold alternate views on our area of science and practice of zoology.”
Henderson stated in her email that loud noise from the protesters “contributed to sparking the incident and affecting disturbing behaviour with some of our animals,” but she said that was no excuse for the employee’s behaviour.