Bowmanville Zoo

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Bowmanville Zoo
Date opened 1919
Location 340 King Street East, Bowmanville, Ontario, CAN
Coordinates 43°54′46″N 78°40′06″W / 43.912811°N 78.668456°W / 43.912811; -78.668456Coordinates: 43°54′46″N 78°40′06″W / 43.912811°N 78.668456°W / 43.912811; -78.668456
Land area 42 acres (17 ha)
Number of animals 300
Memberships CAZA[1]

Bowmanville Zoo is a zoo in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. It is one of the largest suppliers of animals for Hollywood movies and television programs.[2][citation needed] It is Canada's oldest private zoo;[citation needed] founded in 1919, it now hosts over 300 animals. The zoo allows children to ride on the backs of camels.

About 100,000 people visit the zoo each year.[3]


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.[4] Later, a petting zoo was added to the park.[5]

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.[6] By 1946, the park included tennis courts.[7]

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


Some of the animal talent include or have included:[citation needed]


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.[10][11] 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[edit]

Animals from the Bowmanville Zoo are sometimes displayed as part of shows in various parts of Canada.[12][13]

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.[14]


The zoo participates in breeding programs for endangered species, and also accepts retired circus animals.[15]


In December 2015, the Bowmanville Zoo owner, Michael Hackenberger was accused by PETA of animal cruelty.[16] PETA released a heavily edited video which allegedly showed Hackenberger cursing at a young, leashed tiger. PETA claims that the tiger was struck each time the whip was cracked while upon further observation it is clear that the whip is not making contact with the animal. Later after piecing together portions of a 90 minute long converation, PETA edited the footage to look as though Hackenberger claims that "I like hitting him in the face. And the paws...And the beauty of the paws being on the, uh, rock, when you hit him, it’s like a vice. It stings more." He continued, “If we’d been running a videotape 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.[17]

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. PETA has not done so.[18]

On December 23, 2015 The OSPCA attended the Bowmanville Zoological Park and they observed no grounds to remove any animals from the premises.[19]

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. The show, Breakfast Television, later denounced the act and stated they would not be visiting the zoo again in the future.[20]


  1. ^ "Membership Directory". Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 
  2. ^ Bowmanville zoo baby births., 28 March 2010.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. animal rights group wants to stop transfer of circus elephant to Bowmanville zoo". National Post
  4. ^ McNamara, Robert. "How We Rediscovered Canada in 1928" The Crooked Lake Review, November 1993.
  5. ^ "Flashback". CHEX TV, 22 June 2012.
  6. ^ Humber, William. Bowmanville: A Small Town at the Edge. Natural Heritage Books, 1997.
  7. ^ "Bowmanville Tennis club rallies to save courts". Oshawa This Week, 7 October 2009.
  8. ^ Clinton, Julie. "Movie Reviews the Ghost and the Darkness". Entertainment Scene 360.
  9. ^ "Bowmanville zoo tiger who starred in Life of Pi remembered fondly". Metro, 26 February 2013.
  10. ^ "Limba the elephant euthanized at Bowmanville Zoo". CBC News. December 3, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ O'Connor, Kevin. "Stolen Bowmanville Zoo animals found safe". Toronto Sun, 22 June 2010.
  13. ^ McCready, Lindsay. "Bowmanville Zoo at the fair". Moose Jaw Times, 20 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Shawn, Todd, Jonas back home in Bowmanville Zoo". Ottawa Citizen.
  15. ^ U.S. group opposes planned move of circus elephant to Bowmanville Zoo. the Canadian Press, 26 February 2013.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Deschamps, Tara (December 22, 2015). "PETA accuses Bowmanville Zoo owner of abusing Siberian Tiger". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Social media reacts to Bowmanville Zoo director swearing on live TV.". Toronto Sun

External links[edit]