Ontario SPCA probes Bowmanville Zoo over tiger whipping allegations

The Ontario SPCA says it's looking into allegations that a tiger was whipped repeatedly by its trainer at the Bowmanville Zoo.

SPCA officers examined the tiger; no animals were removed

"A tiger will not lay on the ground and allow itself to be struck as this videotape suggests," Michael Hackenberger said in his response to allegations of animal abuse by PETA.

The Ontario SPCA is looking into allegations that a tiger was whipped repeatedly by its trainer at a zoo east of Toronto.

The SPCA says it sent officers specializing in exotic animals to the Bowmanville Zoo where they examined the tigers. No animals were removed.

Michael Hackenberger, who owns the zoo, is being investigated after video surfaced of him swearing at and allegedly whipping a Siberian tiger at the zoo during a training session.

The U.S.-based animal rights group PETA had asked the OSPCA to investigate Hackenberger after a volunteer at the zoo recorded the footage that it says shows animal abuse.

A three-minute long video posted by PETA on its website and a shorter version posted on YouTube on Dec. 22 consists of several segments edited together.

In it, Hackenberger is seen in a performance ring swearing at and appearing to whip the tiger named Uno when it does not comply with the commands of a trainer who he identifies as Madison. PETA alleges he whipped the tiger 19 times.

The SPCA says it will interview everyone involved in the situation and will continue to monitor the care of the animals involved in the investigation.

The agency says it will make sure that the animals get the care they require while the investigation is ongoing.

In a response video posted online, Hackenberger acknowledged that the footage of him lashing the animal appears incriminating but disputes PETA's conclusions.

He said he whipped the tiger only twice and that the subsequent lashes were to the ground – not the tiger's body.

Hackenberger also says the clips don't tell the whole story, adding that volunteer recorded 90 minutes of footage and selectively spliced together only three minutes in which he was disciplining the tiger.

With files from The Canadian Press


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