Police arrested a prominent conservationist after an assault report was made against her by her relative following an incident at the Free To Be Wild sanctuary in Bulawayo.
The country’s only primate rehabilitation centre, Free To Be Wild sanctuary, is at the centre of a bitter ownership and operations wrangle that is said to have turned violent.
According to police records the sanctuary’s owner Baye Pigors was picked up last week over the assault case and later released after paying a $2 000 fine.
Pigors’s relative Sandy Labuschagne alleged that the conservationist attacked her recently at a school in Hillside while she was holding the latter’s baby.
She added that Pigors accused her of exposing her sanctuary’s operations.
According to its website, Free to be Wild Sanctuary is a non-profit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre that relies solely on donations.
According to other sources, Pigors' child was allegedly attacked on the face by an African wild cat in her care that was roaming freely around the property.
In responding to the safety protocols at the sanctuary, Pigors did not deny the wild cat attack saying working with wildlife was a high-risk industry.
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She said they follow strict safety protocols manual guided by reputable organisations to ensure the highest most professional level of safety.
“Free to be Wild runs under a strict safety operations manual guided by the following organisations to ensure the highest most professional levels of safety for any sanctuary personnel or visitors as well as the animals, that is adhered to, with regular training and refresher courses taking place on and off site,” she said.
Guardians of the Free to Be Wild programme symbolically adopt some of the animals, and sponsor their rehabilitation and release back into the wild.