Hollywood Animal Trainer Caught on Film Beating 'Life of Pi' Tiger
A Hollywood animal trainer, who provided the tiger for the movie “Life Of Pi”, was caught on camera savagely whipping a Siberian tiger.
The footage, obtained by PETA, allegedly shows the director of Bowmanville Zoological Park, Michael Hackenberger, hitting the tiger with a whip over and over as it practiced stunts. In the video, Hackenberger 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.”
Then Hackenberger says, “If … we’d been running a videotape … of the times I struck this animal … PETA would burn this place to the ground.”
Well, luckily, that is exactly what happened.
In addition to releasing the video, PETA also released a statement by PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet.
“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,” she said.
This isn’t the first time that animals connected to Hackenberger and “Life of Pi” were caught in precarious — not to mention dangerous — situations. In 2013, the Hollywood Reporter obtained an email written by a representative of the American Humane Association that revealed she covered up a very close call with a tiger used in the 2012 film.
“This one take with him just went really bad and he got lost trying to swim to the side. Damn near drowned… I think this goes without saying but DON’T MENTION IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICE! I have downplayed the f*ck out of it,” she wrote.
Hackenberger found himself in hot water this past August after he swore at a baboon who fell off a pony during a live television stunt.
Since the release of the video, Hackenberger has issued a response video titled, “Our Response to PETA’s Lies.” In the video, Hackenberger says, “I do not strike this animal. I do not strike him. I strike the ground beside him.”
Still, PETA is sticking with its side of the story. In a new statement, the animal rights organization said: “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.”
Bottom line: animals should not be used for entertainment in any shape or form. We hope this issue is resolved swiftly for the sake of the tiger’s safety and well-being.
Watch PETA’s video here: