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Animal trainer filmed whipping tiger denies cruelty claims

A world-renowned animal trainer has denied cruelty claims after being caught on camera whipping a tiger.

Michael Hackenberger, director of Canada’s Bowmanville Zoo, has trained animals for Hollywood blockbusters including ‘The Life Of Pi’ and ‘The Interview’.

In a shocking video released by animal rights group PETA, he was caught on camera swearing in frustration and beating the young Siberian tiger named Uno with a whip 19 times.

The video, recorded in secret at the zoo just outside Toronto, shows the tiger cowering at the beating and rolling onto its back in fear.

“If we’d been running a video tape the whole time you were here, and you did a 45-second montage of the times I struck this animal…PETA would burn this place to the ground,” he even admits at one point.

Video posted by PETA shows Michael Hackenberger allegedly whipping Uno approximately 20 times in a row during a savage training session.PETA via YouTube

Video posted by PETA shows Michael Hackenberger allegedly whipping Uno approximately 20 times in a row during a savage training session.

Hackenberger is also heard discussing the best ways to inflict pain on tigers and says hitting them on the paws is preferable because it “stings more”.

PETA say they have reported Hackenberger’s abuse to the Ontario SPCA, who have confirmed they are investigating the incident.

But Hackenberger refuted PETA’s claims and insisted that their edited 3-minute video does not represent the whole session.

“The images captured are misrepresented by PETA, and I would go so far as to say they’re lying,” Hackenberger said in a video released on YouTube called ‘Our Response to PETA’s Lies’.

Hackenberger is director of the Bowmanville Zoological Park outside Toronto.PETA via YouTube

Hackenberger is director of the Bowmanville Zoological Park outside Toronto.

The animal trainer apologized for his “atrocious” language, but insists he used the whip to strike the ground beside the animal, reported The Toronto Sun.

“I did not strike this animal. I do not strike him. I strike the ground beside him,” he said.

In response to the video denial, PETA said Hackenberger has a history of using violence towards animals as he trains them.

“Wild animals like Uno perform stressful and confusing tricks because they’re terrified that they’ll be beaten if they don’t,” they added.

AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS PUBLICLY DISTRIBUTED HANDOUT PHOTO PROVIDED BY 20TH CENTURY FOX FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY.Jake Netter/20th Century Fox via AP

Hackenberger worked with animals in Ang Lee’s blockbuster ‘The Life Of Pi’.

Brittany Peet, PETA’s deputy director of captive animal law enforcement, said the footage confirmed that Hackenberger “uses violence and physical domination, and he needs to be stopped.”

“You should no more whip a young tiger than a young child — it’s out of line and, we believe, outside of the law,” she said in a statement.

Hackenberger caused controversy in August after calling a baboon a “c——–r” while appearing on breakfast television.

ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE.

lhanna@nydailynews.com

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Nation / World – NY Daily News

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