Bowmanville Zoo Closes Doors for Last Time

Allegations of animal cruelty caused a drop in attendance

North America’s oldest private zoo, Bowmanville Zoo shut it’s doors for good Monday. The zoo suffered from “catastrophically” low attendance in the past year, mainly due to allegations of animal abuse.

In December 2015, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released footage of Bowmanville Zoo owner Michael Hackenberge whipping a tiger. PETA had a member pose an an employee undercover to inspect Hackenberge’s interactions with the animals after he was seen on live TV berating a baboon that wouldn’t ride a miniature horse.

“The untrue allegations made by PETA in regards to a tiger incident have created a climate in which the zoo can no longer operate,” said Zoo spokesman Angus Carroll. Hackenberger stepped down amid the allegations, later being charged with four counts of causing animal distress and one count of failing to comply with prescribed standards of animal care.

On Sunday, the 97-year old zoo posted a thank you message to their patrons “As we as a zoo gather at the table of Thanksgiving tomorrow on our final day of operation the thing we are most thankful for are our loyal supporters and followers who have stood with us through thick and thin.”

They zoo asked for “voluntary donations at the gate to fund the relocation and rehoming of the animals.” The next step will be finding homes for the animals, many of which still need new homes.

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