Ontario SPCA

Ontario SPCA

April 13, 2016 16:15 ET

The Ontario SPCA Files Animal Cruelty Charges Against Michael Hackenberger, Owner of the Bowmanville Zoo

BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 13, 2016) - The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has formally filed animal cruelty charges against Michael Hackenberger, the owner of the Bowmanville Zoo.

The Ontario SPCA was provided with footage of Mr. Hackenberger and Uno, a male Siberian tiger, during a training session where Hackenberger used a whip to strike the animal repeatedly. The Ontario SPCA immediately started an investigation after reviewing the footage.

Today, the Ontario SPCA served Mr. Hackenberger a summons related to five charges of animal cruelty under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The charges are listed as: one charge of causing an animal to be in distress by striking the animal with a whip handle; one charge of causing an animal to be in distress by repeatedly striking the animal with a whip; one charge of causing an animal to be in distress by striking the animal in the face with a whip; one charge of causing an animal distress by pushing his thumb into the animal's eye and; one charge being the person who fails to comply with the prescribed standards of care for such an animal and thereby failed to provide the necessary care for its general welfare as required by the Ontario Regulation 60/90 Section 2(3).

"The videos of Mr. Hackenberger interacting with Uno, the Siberian tiger, provide a basis on which to lay charges," says Senior Inspector Jennifer Bluhm, Ontario SPCA. "Animal cruelty is a serious offense. Our investigative unit has spent significant time reviewing the facility and interviewing all involved. Our priority is always the health and welfare of the animals."

The Ontario SPCA will be doing another inspection of the Bowmanville Zoo and following that, all of the animals at the zoo will continue to be closely monitored by the Ontario SPCA.

The Ontario SPCA Act gives authority to the Society to investigate reports of animal cruelty and to inspect facilities to ensure the standards of care are being met at facilities where animals are being kept for the purpose of animal exhibition, entertainment, boarding, hire or sales; legislation does not grant the Society jurisdiction over the operations of a zoo. The Ontario SPCA does not have the authority to grant nor to revoke anyone the right to own or care for an animal.

Ontario SPCA and Humane Society:

Protecting animals since 1873, Ontario SPCA is Ontario's Animal Welfare organization. A registered charity comprised of over 50 communities.

Since 1919, when Ontario's first Animal Welfare legislation was proclaimed, the Ontario SPCA, with the help of its Communities, has been entrusted to maintain and enforce Animal Welfare legislation. The Act provides Ontario SPCA Agents and Inspectors with police powers to do so.

Ontario SPCA provides leadership in animal welfare innovations including introducing high-volume spay/neuter services to Ontario and opening the Provincial Education and Animal Centre.


Adopt • Learn • Volunteer • Donate

Charitable Business Number 88969 1044 RR0002

Contact Information

  • Media contact:
    Alison Cross
    Ontario SPCA