Hollywood’s once-esteemed animal trainer, Michael Hackenberger, is under fire after video of him savagely beating a tiger was revealed to the world.
According to The Tribune, Hackenberger supplied the tiger used in the Oscar-winning film Life of Pi. Anyone who has seen the movie likely fell in love with the majestic, wild creature, but, unfortunately, had no idea what abuse was inflicted upon the animal to get him to ‘behave’.
The animal trainer also supplied the animals used in James Franco’s film The Interview.
In the footage obtained by PETA (below), Hackenberger, who is the director of Bowmanville Zoological Park, can be seen hitting a tiger in the face repeatedly during a training session.
In the video, he can be heard telling the person recording, “I like hitting him in the face. And the paws – which get the paws off. And…the beauty of the paws being on the rock, when you hit him, it’s like a vice. It stings more.”
People know when they’re being cruel, and Hackenberger is no exception. He then tells the camera:
“If … we’d been running a videotape … of the times I struck this animal … PETA would burn this place to the ground.”
Thanks to the investigative efforts, the organization did just that.
In a statement, PETA wrote that the video shows Hackenberger “savagely beating a young Siberian tiger up to 20 times on the face and body with a whip.”
“PETA’s new video footage confirms that this is a pattern of behaviour Hackenberger has towards animals, and that when he’s out of the public eye, these outbursts can be accompanied by whippings,” PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet said in a statement.
In the video, he states: “I do not strike this animal. I do not strike him. I strike the ground beside him.”
Despite his adamant defense, PETA is sticking with its side of the story.
In another statement, the animal rights organization stated:
“Michael Hackenberger was caught on camera repeatedly and viciously striking a young tiger who lay cowering on his back out of fear and discussing the most effective ways to hit animals, stating quite plainly, ‘I like hitting him in the face’ – yet Hackenberger lies even about having said this. Wild animals like Uno perform stressful and confusing tricks because they’re terrified that they’ll be beaten if they don’t. There is no excuse for beating an animal, any more than there is for hitting a child.”
This isn’t the first time Hackenberger has gotten into trouble for mistreating animals. In August, the trainer was faced with severe criticism when he swore at a baboon who fell off a pony during a live television stunt. He later apologized for the offensive language.
Bottom line: animals do not exist to entertain humans, and should not be abused or exploited for any reason.
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