The Bowmanville Zoo announced on Thursday that it will be closing its doors permanently. This came after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s allegations tarnished the Zoo’s reputation. CBC reports that PETA released video footage in December 2015, appearing to show then owner Michael Hackenberger whipping a tiger.
Toronto Star reports that PETA began looking into Hackenberger after seeing him acting aggressively towards a baboon when it failed to ride a miniature horse. They then sent in someone to act as a undercover employee to investigate the zoo. Since the video, animal cruelty charges have been laid and Hackenberger has stepped down. PETA is celebrating their perceived win.
Regardless to these changes, the Toronto Star reports that the Bowmanville Zoo claims to have a “catastrophically” low number of visitors this year. Its representatives blamed the bad press from PETA’s allegations for it’s low turnout.
This closure will put many employees out of a job and the zoo is now tasked with relocating their many exotic animals. The Bowmanville Zoo was opened in 1919 making it the oldest privately owned zoo in North America. Bowmanville Zoo famously supplied animals for Hollywood films and has animals such as camels, giraffes, tigers and zebras. Their tiger “Jonas” is known for starring in the movie Life of Pi. They will continue to staff animal care technicians until all the animals have been relocated. This is expected to take up to a year. The zoo will officially close in the fall.
Image courtesy of The Bowmanville Zoo Facebook