Long History of Cruelty at Bowmanville Zoo Documented

Born Free USA Alerts Ontario SPCA to Decades of Abuse and Neglect

For Immediate Release:
April 18, 2016

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Bowmanville, Ontario

Lions who have been allowed to attack visitors and animals who have died prematurely comprise just some of the newly revealed litany of incidents at the Bowmanville Zoo, where owner Michael Hackenberger was recently charged with cruelty to animals based on a PETA eyewitness video of the Hollywood animal exhibitor, who was filmed repeatedly whipping a young tiger named Uno. In a letter sent to the Ontario SPCA, world-renowned wildlife organization Born Free USA details the 30-year-long, sordid history of Bowmanville Zoo, whose record of neglect, premature deaths, disgusted employees, and even multiple attacks by frustrated captive animals includes the following:

  • During a high-profile incident in 2015, Hackenberger verbally abused a baboon named Austin on live television, saying, “F**k you, c**ksucker,” to the animal.
  • A tiger named Jonas, who was used on set in the The Life of Pi, died in 2012 during surgery for a previously undiagnosed birth defect.
  • Jonas and two camels were kidnapped from an Econo Lodge parking lot where their trainer had parked them for the night in 2010.
  • A lion named Leo who was used for a photo shoot at the zoo attacked a martial artist in 2008. Video footage is available here.
  • An elephant named Angus, whom Hackenberger had forced to perform in circuses, died in 2006 after he was sedated ahead of a flight to Africa for a film project.
  • An elephant named Limba was reportedly badly beaten as punishment for attacking a circus trainer in 2002.
  • A lion named Bongo attacked former Bowmanville trainer Dave Salmoni in 1999.

“The violent whipping of Uno the tiger revealed in PETA’s video is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Michael Hackenberger’s cruelty to animals,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “This habitual abuser must be stopped, and the cruelty charges he must now face in court are a vital first step.”

Born Free USA’s letter is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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