More Trouble for Bowmanville Zoo: Giraffe Reportedly Shot at With BB Gun

Disgraced Facility and Pop Star Justin Bieber Slapped With Official Warnings for Big-Cat Exhibition

For Immediate Release:
July 20, 2016

Moira Colley 202-483-7382


Bad news continues to mount for the Bowmanville Zoo. Last night, PETA sent a letter calling on the Ontario Society for the Protection of Animals (OSPCA) to investigate eyewitness reports that a person wearing what appeared to be a Bowmanville Zoo uniform repeatedly shot at a giraffe with a BB gun on Saturday, June 25, after closing time. The reports are supported by PETA eyewitness footage  shows zoo employees discussing shooting animals with BB guns.

According to the sworn statements, in an apparent attempt to direct the giraffe into a barn, the person—whose description resembles that of the zoo veterinarian and wife of zoo owner and former director Michael Hackenberger—fired a BB gun at the animal approximately seven times, causing the giraffe to run frantically in circles. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is calling for the giraffe to be seized, as Ontario law allows for the seizure of animals if a veterinarian determines that removing them is necessary for their health and well-being.

“Terrorizing giraffes into obedience could easily prove fatal to these fragile and skittish animals, who have been injured and even died in captivity after falling or running into barriers,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling for a full investigation into this latest reminder that nobody who cares about animals should ever visit the Bowmanville Zoo.”

Additionally, this week, PETA learned that Toronto Animal Services (TAS) sent official warnings to pop star Justin Bieber as well as the Bowmanville Zoo and its associate Alex Haditaghi over the illegal possession of big cats and other prohibited animals backstage at the singer’s Toronto concert and at his father’s Toronto engagement party—a violation of the city’s municipal code, which prohibits keeping animals such as tigers, lions, lemurs, and camels in the city.

“No reputable animal-care facility would lend out lions and tigers for private parties and backstage Instagram photos,” adds Peet. “The Bowmanville Zoo’s reputation for endangering animals and the public is catching up with it, and when this hellhole finally closes, PETA will wave good riddance to bad rubbish.”

Hackenberger, who is due back in court this week, is currently facing five cruelty-to-animals charges after a PETA video showed him viciously whipping a young tiger during a “training” session—even after the cat lay on his back in a submissive position. The Bowmanville Zoo has announced that it will be forced to close at the end of the season because of a sharp decline in attendance.

PETA’s letter to the OSPCA and TAS’ warnings are available upon request. For more information, please visit

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