"The untrue allegations made by PETA in regards to a tiger incident have created a climate in which the zoo can no longer operate," the zoo said in a release. "People are staying away because they believe PETA's allegations. The fact is PETA released only a short piece of a long video, and then misrepresented what transpired in that short part. What they said is not true, but it doesn't matter - the damage is done."
But despite the zoo's protestations, Hackenberger's tiger beating was just the latest in a series of problems. The zoo had already been placed on probation last year by Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) - the country's top accreditation group, of which Bowmanville Zoo was a member - for undisclosed violations.
In another incident, Hackenberger was heard cursing at his animals on a live television show, when he called a baboon a "cocksucker" for falling off a miniature horse during a stunt. Bowmanville Zoo also hosted "cub petting parties," a controversial practice that always involves abuse.