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Family of two-year-old bitten by bears sues Greater Vancouver Zoo

Child suffered broken bone, scarring, partially amputated finger, lawsuit claims
(Langley Advance Times files)

The family of a girl who was bitten by black bears at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove more than three years ago is suing the zoo.

Richard Hanson launched the lawsuit on behalf of Sophia Hanson, who was two years old in 2019, when the attack took place.

According to a notice of civil claim filed with the Supreme Court of B.C. in Vancouver, on Aug. 5, 2019, Sophia stuck her arm through “an unguarded chain link fence located at the black bear exhibit,” and was “attacked and mauled” by a group of bears.

The lawsuit claims the injuries included partial amputation of a finger, a broken bone in the forearm, loss of muscle tissue and scarring, and psychological injury.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for, among other things, pain and suffering, loss of future income earning capacity, the need for future care, and special damages for medication, rehabilitation, and lost wages by third parties on behalf of the child.

A response from the zoo has not yet been publicly filed with the court.

In the wake of the 2019 attack, the zoo said that the toddler had somehow gotten through or around the first layer of fencing that sits between the public and the bears. In this case, it was three orphaned black bears who were sharing a single enclosure.

The gates and first layer of fencing are made of wood and chain link, about chest-high on an adult, and the inner layer is a higher chain link fence.

Sophia was airlifted to hospital and the zoo was closed down for the day after the attack.

“The team at the zoo are deeply shocked and saddened by the accident that occurred yesterday and we are working on all fronts to gather all the information with all parties involved,” Menita Prasad, now deputy general manager of the zoo, said in 2019 after the incident.

“We can confirm that the incident occurred at our black bear enclosure and that the child was bitten by one of the bears while the child was in an area that is not authorized for public access,” Prasad stated.

The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 19, 2022.

It alleges that the fence or the bears were a hazard, and that the zoo and its owners were negligent.

None of the claims made in the filing have been proven before in court.

READ MORE: 2-year-old airlifted to hospital from zoo after alleged bear bite

READ ALSO: $60K fine for B.C. woman who fed bears was too hefty, appeal court rules

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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