New Footage Reveals Bowmanville Zoo Animal Trainer’s Pattern of Abuse

Tiger Beater Caught on Video Describing Wolves 'Fold[ing] Like a House of Cards' When He Hits Them

For Immediate Release:
January 7, 2016

Contact:
Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Bowmanville, Ontario – Bowmanville Zoo owner Michael Hackenberger—who has supplied animals for TV shows and films, such as Life of Pi and The Interview—came under fire last month when he was caught on a PETA eyewitness video swearing at and savagely whipping a young Siberian tiger up to 20 times, causing the animal’s anal sacs to let loose out of fear. Now PETA is releasing never-before-seen footage in which Hackenberger describes his cruel training methods.

Hackenberger describes using a whip as a “disincentive,” saying that punishment is the only way to force an animal to perform. He goes on to boast about his power to use the whip to “carve my initials in their side,” and while brandishing a stick—as a wolf cowers on the floor off camera—he says, “You smack ’em and they generally fold like a house of cards. … And that’s the beauty of these things.” In the background, a wolf in a cage can also be seen pacing—a sign of severe stress in caged animals. A Bowmanville Zoo administrator later acknowledges Hackenberger’s violent training methods, stating, “You throw them down on the ground so they know who’s boss. That’s basically Michael’s way of working all animals.”

“This footage confirms what shocking earlier video recordings brought to light: that Michael Hackenberger’s use of violence and physical intimidation is a pattern of constant abuse,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “The OSPCA has been notified, and we look forward to the results of its investigation.”

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

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.

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“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