A popular zoo owner who has already been criticized for aggressively swearing at a monkey on live television is now facing even more criticism after a video surfaced from a hidden camera of him allegedly whipping a young tiger.

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In the video, originally posted to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA’s) website, a whip is cracked by the Bowmanville Zoo owner, Michael Hackenberger, about 19 times during his training session with the Siberian tiger Uno.

In Hackenberger’s Defense…

Naturally, people were outraged by what they saw, but in a recent video put out by Hackenberger himself, he claims that he actually wasn’t whipping the tiger, but whipping the air. He stated: “Maybe I viciously whipped the ground. Maybe I viciously whipped the air, but I did not viciously whip that tiger,” he said. “I didn’t strike the tiger except twice to get him turned around.”

It is indeed unclear whether or not Hackenberger is actually whipping the tiger, but this still seems like a very aggressive method of training. Some might argue that this kind of training is necessary, but others, particularly those who work with PETA, would argue that these animals are not meant to be trained in the first place, and they should be left alone in the wild to do things the way they naturally would.

Why Such A Vulgar Choice Of Wording?

At the end of the video, Hackenberger appears on the screen and says: “Cause I like hitting him in the face. And the paws, which gets the paws off and the beauty of the paws being on the, uh, rock, when you hit him, it’s like a vice. . . . It stings more.”

“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,” (1:21) he continues.

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Watch The Video

Obviously saying things like that is going to make anyone skeptical about whether or not Hackenberger is actually telling the truth; does he lack compassion for the animals or does he just have a potty mouth? It’s hard to say. The person who went undercover to get the footage said, “The young tiger was so traumatized that he involuntarily emptied his anal sacs, a fear response in big cats”

Hackenberger responded to that statement by mentioning how Uno actually had a touch of diarrhea that day.

What Now?

A non-profit animal welfare agency, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), has announced that they will be launching an investigation into the matter. “The welfare of the animals in the care of our accredited member institutions is our paramount concern,” said a CAZA statement. “The issues raised by the video are serious and require a thorough and fair review.”

Previous Controversy

There was enough outrage over the “swearing at the monkey” incident alone that the news station which aired the clip on live television said they would no longer be going to the Bowmanville Zoo. It also sparked quite the outrage on Twitter…


Watch The Video Of Hackenberger Swearing At The Monkey Below


So, what are your thoughts about this? Do you think the owner was out of line, or do you think this type of behaviour is necessary to train these animals? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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