Good Riddance: Bowmanville Zoo Finally Closes Its Doors

Published by Craig Shapiro.

The sorry story of the Bowmanville Zoo finally came to a long overdue and well-deserved end today when the Ontario zoo closed its doors forever.

For the animals inside, October 11 couldn’t come fast enough.

Last December, Michael Hackenberger, owner and former director of the zoo, was caught on video by a PETA eyewitness repeatedly whipping a Siberian tiger so viciously that the big cat involuntarily emptied his anal sacs, a fear response.

Hackenberger went on to boast about using the whip to “carve my initials in their side.” Wielding a stick as a wolf cowered on the floor off-camera, he added: “You smack ’em and they generally fold like a house of cards. … And that’s the beauty of these things.”

Despite resigning from his position after being unmasked as a savage bully, Hackenberger denied having done anything wrong. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals saw otherwise and in April charged him with five counts of cruelty to animals. CBS didn’t buy Hackenberger’s desperate protests, either: The TV network dropped its plans to hire the abusive trainer for its show Zoo. Hackenberger has supplied animals to many film and TV productions, including Life of Pi.

Hackenberger had previously been caught on video swearing at a baboon on live television after the baboon fell off a pony. And recently, two local residents witnessed a woman, who appeared to be dressed in a zoo uniform and whom they suspected was an employee, fire what they believed to be a BB gun at a panicked giraffe.

Good riddance to Bowmanville Zoo.

What You Can Do

Vote against cruelty to animals with your wallet. Never buy a ticket to any zoo, circus, theme park, or other attraction that uses animals. When their bottom line takes a hit, animal exploiters take notice.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind