Bowmanville Zoo
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Bowmanville Zoo

Bowmanville Zoo was a zoo in Clarington, Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1919, at the time of its closure, in 2016, it was the oldest private zoo in North America.[2][3] It was a large supplier of animals to the U.S. film industry.[4]

About 100,000 people visited the zoo each year, a figure which dropped by more than two thirds in its final year.[2][5] The Bowmanville Zoo officially closed on October 10, 2016.[6]


The land now occupied by the zoo, on the banks of Soper Creek, was part of the grounds of the Cream of Barley Mill, located further south on the creek. The mill owner developed a campground and park for tourists, aptly named "The Cream of Barley Campground", on the part of the property that was near the highway.[7] Later, a petting zoo was added to the park.[8]

By 1928, the mill, camp, and park (which now included tourist cabins) were owned James Morden and operated by Alfred Shrubb, formerly a world-renowned long distance runner.[9] By 1946, the park included tennis courts.[10]

Over time, the zoo aspect of the business became more prominent, and the cabins were turned into animal shelters and storage buildings.

Michael Hackenberger was the final owner of the Bowmanville Zoo. In April 2016, Hackenberger was charged with 5 counts of animal abuse by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) due to a video obtained by PETA of Hackenberger whipping a young leashed tiger profusely while swearing at it.[2]


Some of the animal talent included:[]


The zoo once had seven elephants with a mix of African and Asian.

Limba was the lone Asian elephant at the zoo, arrived in 1989 and was euthanized in late 2013 at the age of 50 after a malignant tumor was found in her abdomen. The pachyderm was well known for appearing in Bowmanville's annual Santa Claus Parade and several movies.[13][14] With her death and closure of Toronto Zoo's elephant exhibit, the only zoo in Ontario with elephants is the African Lion Safari.

Traveling exhibits

Animals from the Bowmanville Zoo are sometimes displayed as part of shows in various parts of Canada.[15][16]

Two camels, Shawn and Todd, along with Jonas the tiger, went missing for two days on the way home from one of these trips when their trailer, along with the truck pulling it, was stolen near Drummondville, Quebec in 2010. All three were found in good health and returned to the zoo.[17]


The zoo participated in breeding programs for endangered species, and also accepts retired circus animals.[18]


In December 2015, the Bowmanville Zoo owner, Michael Hackenberger was accused by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) of animal cruelty.[19] PETA released a video taken secretly which showed Hackenberger cursing and cracking a whip numerous times at a young Siberian tiger named Uno.[20]

In response to PETA's allegations, Hackenberger released his own video statement. In it, he asserts that although his "language is atrocious and I apologize for that," "PETA, once again, is lying." He stated that only two of the 19 cracks of the whip shown in the video struck the tiger, with the remainder striking either the air or the ground immediately adjacent to the tiger. He also challenged PETA to release the full length of the video taken.[21]

Earlier in 2015, Hackenberger was filmed on live television swearing at a baboon for failing to complete a trick, which involved its jumping off the back of a miniature pony.

On April 13, 2016, as a result of the video of Michael Hackenberger whipping the leashed tiger, five animal cruelty charges were brought against him. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it began investigating alleged abuse at the Bowmanville Zoo immediately after reviewing the footage that emerged in December. The agency said the zoo's owner, Michael Hackenberger, was charged with four counts of causing an animal distress; causing an animal distress by striking the animal with a whip handle, causing an animal distress by repeatedly striking an animal with a whip, causing an animal to be in distress by striking the animal in the face with a whip, and causing an animal distress by pushing his thumb into the animals eye. The last charge was one of failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for an animal. Three of the distress charges relate to the use of a whip, and one related to Hackenberger pushing his thumb into the tigers eye. The OSPCA said it would continue to conduct inspections of the zoo and continue to closely monitor the animals there.[22]

On March 23, 2017, the charges against Michael Hackenberger were judicially stayed. They were automatically withdrawn 1 year later, on March 23, 2018.


On June 23, 2016, the zoo announced that it would close its doors at the end of the 2016 season, just three years short of its 100-year anniversary which was to occur in 2019. Zoo officials announced that the closure would occur as a result of financial issues caused by a catastrophic decline in attendance following the zoo's owner being charged with animal cruelty.[23] The zoo officially closed its doors on October 10, 2016.[6]

In 2017 the property re-opened as Clarington Family Outdoor Adventure Park and still featured lions and some staff from previous operations.[24]


  1. ^ "Membership Directory". Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Archived from the original on 23 April 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Javed, Noor (23 June 2016). "Bowmanville Zoo to close this year". Retrieved 2018 – via Toronto Star.
  3. ^ Farooqui, Salmaan (10 October 2016). "Bowmanville Zoo closes for good after animal abuse claims against director". Retrieved 2018 – via Toronto Star.
  4. ^ "Bowmanville Zoo to close after attendance dwindles in wake of tiger abuse allegations". 23 June 2016. Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ a b "U.S. animal rights group wants to stop transfer of circus elephant to Bowmanville zoo". National Post
  6. ^ a b Shah, Maryam. "Bowmanville Zoo closes its doors for good". Toronto Sun, 10 October 2016.
  7. ^ McNamara, Robert. "How We Rediscovered Canada in 1928" The Crooked Lake Review, November 1993.
  8. ^ "Flashback". CHEX TV, 22 June 2012.
  9. ^ Humber, William. Bowmanville: A Small Town at the Edge. Natural Heritage Books, 1997.
  10. ^ "Bowmanville Tennis club rallies to save courts". Oshawa This Week, 7 October 2009.
  11. ^ Clinton, Julie. "Movie Reviews the Ghost and the Darkness" Archived 1 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Entertainment Scene 360.
  12. ^ "Bowmanville zoo tiger who starred in Life of Pi remembered fondly". Metro, 26 February 2013.
  13. ^ "Limba the elephant euthanized at Bowmanville Zoo". CBC News. December 3, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  14. ^ Commisso, Christina (3 December 2013). "Lone elephant at Bowmanville, Ont. zoo dies". Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ O'Connor, Kevin. "Stolen Bowmanville Zoo animals found safe". Toronto Sun, 22 June 2010.
  16. ^ McCready, Lindsay. "Bowmanville Zoo at the fair". Moose Jaw Times, 20 June 2013.
  17. ^ "Shawn, Todd, Jonas back home in Bowmanville Zoo". Ottawa Citizen.
  18. ^ U.S. group opposes planned move of circus elephant to Bowmanville Zoo. the Canadian Press, 26 February 2013.
  19. ^ "Hollywood Animal Trainer Caught on Video Viciously Whipping a Young Tiger". Retrieved 2018.
  20. ^ Deschamps, Tara (December 22, 2015). "PETA accuses Bowmanville Zoo owner of abusing Siberian Tiger". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015.
  21. ^ "YouTube". Retrieved 2018.
  22. ^ "Owner of Bowmanville Zoo faces animal cruelty charges - CBC News". Retrieved 2018.
  23. ^ "Bowmanville Zoo announces closing its doors at end of 2016 season". CP24. Retrieved 2016.
  24. ^ "New business at Bowmanville Zoo property criticized for selling lion 'cub encounters' - - Bowmanville news". NewsLocker. Retrieved .

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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