Trainer abuse

There are bad trainers out there

Hackenberger, owner of Bowmanville Zoological Park abuses tigerThere are good trainers out there – and very bad ones.  How many movies do we watch that support the bad ones?  It’s difficult to know the answer to that question. However, when there is clear video proof of abusive policies and action, it’s now on us to do something about it.     ~ Bowmanville Zoological Park owner Michael Hackenberger denies viciously whipping a tiger and says he’s the one under attack from animal rights activists.  That’s a rather amazing statement if you’ve seen the video.  He’s clearly beating the tiger.  He’s clearly stating that he prefers whipping him in specific ways because it “stings more.”  Later, he says he was hitting the ground next to the tiger. Hackenberger’s own words: “I didn’t strike the tiger, except twice to get him turned around.” “Cause I like hitting him in the face,” he says.  “And the paws, being on the rock, when you hit him, it’s like a vice … It stings more.”      ~ If terror is your training tool, you’re not a trainer nor should you be.


More on Bowmanville Zoo

Exploitation by Bowmanville ZooIs it ethical to sell 30 minute photo shoots with baby predators?  Is it humane?  Does it show the true focus of the ‘zoo’ involved?

Well – don’t forget that you can add additional people in this exploitation of cubs for a mere $30 each, up to a maximum of 6 and suitable for all ages.


All you have to do is suspend your humanity for the duration of this photo shoot.  After all, is it really necessary to refuse to abuse baby animals if the up side is getting some really cool photos?  What does suffering matter when your personal pleasure is involved.  Thirty whole minutes of your personal, abusive pleasure?  Think about this.  Learn more, don’t take anyone’s word for it.


Bowmanville Zoo Abuse


Bowman Zoo sells photo shoots


Learn more:

Reported Dec 22, 2015:


Being fair and open to input

First off, viewers have no idea whether the tiger in the dispute video is the same tiger or not, but what we can see very clearly is that the tiger used has been conditioned to ignore that whip for a treat.  Watch the tiger the second time the whip is swung. He looks to the young woman for the treat he expects while the whip is swinging.

It will take an objective and thorough investigation to get an idea of what truths exist here.  It’s entirely possible that Michael Hackenberger actually cares about the animals in his charge without appreciating the harm he has caused.  A trainer who must terrorize his animals is not much of a trainer.  For example, I’ve known many horse trainers who dominate and terrorize the horses they train.  Those trainers will swear to you that this is good training policy.  Those trainers will tell you that you must dominate your horse because 800 – 1000 pounds of equine power can kill you.  This is the basis of Hackenberger’s training methods, by his own words.  I have disagreed for the last 45 years and – with horses – have proven this postulation wrong too many times to list.  In addition: Apex predators are not meant to be performance animals at all!

As of last year! – they no longer declaw their big cats!  In many small, unregulated circus environments around the world, a predator’s claws and even teeth have been removed for the safety of the humans performing with them.  Hackenberger repeats examples of the dangers inherent in performing with an apex predator.  The simple truth is that performing with apex predators is not safe nor will it ever be.  It is also not an ‘enrichment’ for the animal as he suggests, as has been explained by so many biologists who specialize in various predator research.  Apex predators are not biologically or behaviorally capable of being performance animals!

The only reasonable exception to the firm stand that apex predators do not belong in the entertainment industry or for public display involves those few that were rescued and are unable to be rehabilitated for return to the wild – so they are given as much natural freedom as possible in sanctuaries.  Some become ambassadors, teaching humans about their species.  That education given from these ambassadors invariably emphasizes that apex predators (including raptors) are not suited for performance industries nor as pets.

Hackenberger makes this an issue about PETA.  That is a mistake at best.  At worst, it’s a deliberate shift of focus away from questions about the well-being of animals at this zoo-circus.

Hackenberger apologizes for his profane language.  Who cares?  If our issue is with the man’s use of words, we might need to reassess what is offensive and what is nothing more than a choice we would not make for ourselves.  Who cares what words a person chooses to use.  Just take good care of the animals.

Hackenberger states that PETA’s use of only a few minutes of a much longer video changes the truth of the video shown.  You do hear clearly that he sees any animal disobedience (or child misbehavior, by his words) as a personal affont.  That reaction is not one that I’d accept from any trainer of my animals, nor would I accept it from a parent dealing with a screaming child as in his example.

In an attempt to be fair, we wills share Hackenberger’s dispute video here.




 What can be done?

Contact everyone – to demand an investigation as well as apply pressure to have these animals released to appropriate sanctuaries.

Bowman Zoological Park contact info:

Bowmanville Zoological Park on Facebook

Bowmanville Zoo on Twitter


Bowmanville Zoo
340 King Street East
Bowmanville, ON L1C 3K5

Telephone: 905 623.5655
FAX: 905 623.0957





Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums executive director, Massimo Bergamini, promised to investigate. 

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