Pop Goes The News — The owner of a Canadian zoo has been caught on video whipping a tiger.
Michael Hackenberger of the Bowmanville Zoological Park is seen cursing at the tiger during a training exercise and whipping it several times — including while the animal is on the ground with its paws up.
The disturbing footage, captured on hidden camera, was posted Tuesday by animal rights group PETA.
It claims the Siberian tiger, named Uno, was so frightened that it “involuntarily emptied his anal sacs, a fear response in big cat.”
The undercover video also shows Hackenberger talking about striking an animal.
“I like hitting him in the face. And the paws, being on the rock, when you hit him, it’s like a vice,” he explains. “It stings more.”
In a statement late Tuesday, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) said it is investigating the conduct shown in the video.
“The welfare of the animals in the care of our accredited member institutions is our paramount concern,” it reads. “CAZA’s values, policies and standards are clear: animals must be treated with respect and dignity and in a manner that does not jeopardize their welfare. ”
CAZA said its Ethics Committee was empaneled Tuesday and will convene quickly.
“The issues raised by the video are serious and require a thorough and fair review.”
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has also opened an investigation.
In a lengthy video response to PETA’s video, Hackenberger said he mostly whipped the ground, not the tiger.
“I got him twice, but after that … I do not strike the animal,” he says.
“You can see I’m not hitting the animal, he’s not responding. A tiger will not lay on the ground and allow itself to be struck as this videotape suggests.”
Hackenberger apologizes for using foul language, attacks PETA, and attempts to justify training wild animals to perform tricks.
Earlier this year, Hackenberger came under fire for cursing at a baboon during a live segment on Toronto’s Breakfast Television.
According to its website, the Bowmanville Zoo maintains “the largest stable of trained animals in North America” and is a leading supplier of animal talent to the television, movie and entertainment industry.”
The zoo’s tiger Jonas was used in 2012’s Life of Pi, which was partly filmed in Montreal.
Hackenberger is married to veterinarian Wendy Korver.