Petition Closed

Send the Creatures of the Bowmanville Zoo to Sanctuaries

This petition had 31,343 supporters

On April 13, 2016, the owner of the Bowmanville Zoo Michael Hackenberger was charged with 5 counts of animal cruelty by the OSPCA: four counts of causing an animal distress (causing an animal distress by striking the animal with a whip handle, causing an animal distress by repeatedly striking an animal with a whip, causing an animal to be in distress by striking the animal in the face with a whip, and causing an animal distress by pushing his thumb into the animals eye) and one count of failing to provide the prescribed standards of care.

This case was brought forward after PETA released the following GRAPHIC videos (

In the first video, Hackenberger is seen "training" a young tiger named Uno by whipping it and swearing profusely at it. In the second, he describes his training methods quite graphically including direct quotes such as "...I can carve my initials in their side" (referring to his use of whips on tigers) or "You smack ’em and they generally fold like a house of cards, and that's the beauty of it." (in reference to training his wolf pack).

This caused zoo attendance to plummet by 65% and today, the Bowmanville Zoo announced it will be closing its doors at the end of their 2016 season. Which begs the question left unanswered by their press release: what will happen to the animals?

It is my hope, that we can appeal to any shred of humanity left at this institution and have its animals sent to accredited sanctuaries where they will never face abuse again.

To the Bowmanville Zoo:

I would like to start off by saying I am sorry as I would like to believe that when many of you began your careers working with animals that this is not what you intended- to work for an institution that has been proven to abuse their animals.

When it was announced early today (June 23, 2016) that you would be closing your doors at the end of your 2016 I must admit my reaction was bittersweet. I was glad, because after witnessing online the abuse your animals at the hands of Michael Hackenberger, I was glad they would no longer be under the care of an institution that allowed such a monster to be at its helm. However, immediately after I felt great concern for where your animals may end up. I am aware that they will be in high demand especially considering some of their prolific roles in Hollywood Blockbusters.

So this is where I beg of you to send your animals to the suitable facilities: a sanctuary in which they may live out the rest of their lives abuse-free - not another zoo or performance facility.

I have contacted over 70 Accredited North American animal sanctuaries seeking help with this effort, and I am aware it is no small feat. But the way I see it you have two options: accept your awful reputation as animal abusers and simply auction these animals off to the highest bidders unsure what level of care they may receive or send them to the appropriate sanctuaries and redeem yourselves.

You have claimed in your press release the closure makes you sad, but this is your opportunity to make this into an extremely positive situation for all involved. Heck, the good press alone would make it worth it for you after the year you've had. Please consider doing the right thing.


Hayley Kavanagh and the undersigned

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