Success: Zookeeper Accused of Whipping Tiger Charged with Animal Cruelty

Target: Jennifer Bluhm, Senior Inspector of the Ontario SPCA

Goal: Applaud investigation and charging of zookeeper accused of whipping Siberian tiger and other acts of cruelty.

Bowmanville Zoo owner Michael Hackenberger, who owns and trains animals exploited for show business, has been charged with cruelty to animals by the Ontario SPCA. The charges come on the heels of an undercover investigation conducted by PETA, in which Hackenberger was allegedly caught on camera viciously whipping a young Siberian tiger named Uno. The abuse reportedly occurred during a so-called “training session,” illustrating the kind of suffering endured by animals used by the entertainment industry.

PETA released the graphic video in December, provoking a strong public reaction. People all around the world were outraged. A number of petitions, like this one on ForceChange, demanded that Hackenberger be investigated for his alleged extreme cruelty.

Unsurprisingly, the incident was not Hackenberger’s first foray into animal abuse. Last year he incurred similar public backlash when, on live television, he allegedly verbally abused a baboon for failing to perform a trick.

According to, the five charges filed against Hackenberger include, “causing an animal to be in distress by striking the animal with a whip handle; causing an animal distress by repeatedly striking the animal with a whip; causing an animal to be in distress by striking the animal in the face with a whip; causing an animal distress by pushing his thumb into the animal’s eye; and failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for such an animal.”

If found guilty, Hackenberger faces up to $60,000 in fines, two years in jail and a lifelong ban on owning animals. He has reportedly stepped down from his position at Bowmanville Zoo in order to contest the charges.

This is good news for those of us who agree that non-human animals have a right to live their lives without undue pain and suffering. Please sign the below petition, thanking the Ontario SPCA for investigating this matter and charging a notorious animal abuser.


Ms. Bluhm,

I am writing to thank you and your organization for investigating and charging Bowmanville Zoo owner Michael Hackenberger, who was reportedly caught on camera torturing a Siberian tiger with a whip. As you know, many people were outraged by the video and demanded justice for the brutalized animal.

It is comforting to know that there are people such as yourself who are dedicated to ensuring that non-human animals are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. I hope the charges you filed against Hackenberger will serve as a warning to other animal abusers that this disgraceful behavior will not go unpunished.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ontario SPCA

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  1. Many thanks for charging him with cruelty.

  2. How the hell can this evil bastard contest charges where he is witnessed, even video-taped? Feed the bastard to the tiger!


  4. It’s time to Hack the Hackenberger. or rather make some hamburgers out of his flesh. Whip his flesh until it gets hacked. What a scumbag.

  5. Five charges is hardly fair. How many times did he strike this tiger??! I saw the video, I would charge him with at least 25 counts of cruelty for the short clip alone. What can he contest, there is a video!! It’s him!

  6. Cheryl Williams says:

    Isn’t it wonderful to know someone was finally caught for doing something wrong to an innocent animal? I am so happy and I hope they lock him up for years although, I know they won’t. The poor animals go through hell at the hands of those that say they ‘love’ them but sometimes that love is so painful that it actually kills the animals.

    How is that justified? I don’t understand why we haven’t figured out yet that animals don’t belong in places where people aren’t screened constantly as to their mental ability to be with them. How they will treat them at all times. I mean if an animal must be in a cage in a zoo, and the zoo is a good one,shouldn’t his caretaker be kind? Loving? Caring? Concerned? Should he even carry a whip?

    It’s funny, when I go to the zoo, I think the animals look at me as if I’m the one that’s on display. I’m sure I look strange , odd, maybe should be living in a tree? I always want to let them free to just take off but know most of them wouldn’t be able to care for themselves since they were born and raised in the zoo. I haven’t been since my children were very young, about twenty years ago but my heart goes out to all the animals there.

    I bleed for them and cry for them. I want them free from pain and I want all the young to be with their parents. I hate animals are forced to procreate and then can’t raise their young. How is that right? So many things are wrong. So much pain caused to the animals and they have no voice to speak out about it. All we can do is be there for them and try to protect them together as a group. That’s how we’ll win.

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