Hollywood Animal Trainer Caught on Video Viciously Whipping a Tiger

PETA Seeks Cruelty-to-Animals Charges Against Bowmanville Zoological Park Owner Months After He Was Caught Cursing at a Baboon on Live TV

For Immediate Release:
December 22, 2015

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Bowmanville, Ontario – When Bowmanville Zoological Park owner Michael Hackenberger was caught venting his anger and swearing at a baboon on live TV in August, audiences were horrified. Now, a new PETA eyewitness video reveals that Hackenberger—who supplies animals for TV and film productions, including the tiger used in Life of Pi and The Interview, among others—repeatedly swore at and savagely whipped a young Siberian tiger up to 20 times on the face and body on December 11. The tiger is seen cowering, rolling over on his back, and expressing his anal glands during the beating—a fear response in big cats. PETA is calling on the Ontario SPCA to take immediate action to investigate Hackenberger, charge him with all violations of law, and confiscate the tiger.

In the video, Hackenberger shares his methods of making physical punishment more painful, stating, “I like hitting him in the face. And the paws … the beauty of the paws being on the rock, when you hit him, it’s like a vise. … It stings more.” He also stresses the need to conceal such brutal training methods from the public. “If  … we’d been running a videotape the whole time you were here, and you did a 45-second … montage of the times I struck this animal … PETA would burn this place to the ground,” he tells the eyewitness. “Do your homework. Because if you don’t, it’s gonna be bad.”

“PETA’s eyewitness footage confirms that Michael Hackenberger uses violence and physical domination, and he needs to be stopped,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “You should no more whip a young tiger than a young child—it’s out of line and, we believe, outside the law.”

Broadcast-quality footage is available for download here. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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