PETA eyewitness has caught the owner of the tiger used in Life of Pi, Bowmanville Zoological Park owner Michael Hackenberger, on video viciously whipping another Siberian tiger named Uno approximately 20 times in a row during a savage training session. The young tiger was so traumatized that he involuntarily emptied his anal sacs, a fear response in big cats. “I got a bit angry there,” Hackenberger later admitted.
UPDATE: The trainer caught viciously whipping a young tiger has been charged with cruelty to animals.
We are pleased that criminal charges have been brought against Michael Hackenberger for the abuse of a tiger used in his exploitive zoo shows, and we hope that this case will result in an end to his torment of animals made to suffer for human entertainment.
UPDATE: New footage released by PETA reveals trainer Michael Hackenberger’s pattern of abuse.
Bowmanville Zoo owner Michael Hackenberger has been caught on camera describing his cruel training methods. In the video, 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 using 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.”
“I like hitting him in the face. And the paws … being on the rock, when you hit him, it’s like a vise,” Hackenberger told PETA’s eyewitness. “It stings more.” He admitted that such beatings would cause public outrage if exposed. “If … we’d been running a videotape … of the times I struck this animal … PETA would burn this place to the ground.”
Viewers got a taste of the anger Michael Hackenberger feels towards animals when he swore at this baboon who fell off a pony during a live television stunt. PETA’s new video footage confirms that this is a pattern of behavior Hackenberger has towards animals, and that when he’s out of the public eye, these outbursts can be accompanied by whippings.
What You Can Do
Vote against cruelty with your wallet:
Never buy tickets to any movie or live performance that uses wild animals. When their revenues take a hit, animal abusers take notice. For example, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced in 2015 that it is ending elephant acts because of the shift in public opinion on the use and abuse of animals for “entertainment.”
If you’ve witnessed cruelty and/or neglect during the production of a film, television show, or advertisement or at an animal-training compound, please click here to learn more about what you can do.