A Bowmanville, Ontario, zoo owner best known for calling a baboon a "cocksucker" on live TV has stepped down in light of animal cruelty charges he faces for allegedly whipping a tiger.
Michael Hackenberger, who runs Bowmanville Zoological Park, came under fire in December, when video footage that appeared to show him whipping a Siberian tiger 20 times during a training session was posted online by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Hackenberger was charged this week with four counts of causing an animal distress and one of failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for an animal, according to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA).
In a Facebook post, Hackenberger said he was stepping down from his duties at the zoo "until such time as this legal matter is resolved." He maintained his innocence.This monkey is a hero.
The video, recorded by a witness and later handed over to PETA, appeared to show Hackenberger whipping the tiger with a rod and making statements about how he likes to hit tigers in the face.
"If we'd been running a videotape the whole time, you were here, and you did a forty-five-second montage of the times I struck this animal, PETA would burn this place to the ground," he said.
When the recording first went public, Hackenberger released a 30-minute rant on YouTube, titled "Our Response to PETA's lies," in which he claimed "the biggest problems we have in captivity are bored, obese animals," and that proper "training" was a way to combat that.
The OSPCA said it will investigate the zoo further to make sure the other animals there are safe.
Hackenberger made headlines last August when he was featured on a Breakfast Television segment in which a baboon was supposed to ride on the back of a mini-horse. When the baboon jumped off, Hackenberger, seemingly unaware that he was mic'd, could be heard saying "fucking cocksucker."
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