|Location||340 King Street East, Bowmanville, Ontario, CAN|
|Land area||42 acres (17 ha)|
|Number of animals||300|
Bowmanville Zoo is a zoo in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. It is one of the largest suppliers of animals for Hollywood movies and television programs. It is Canada's oldest private zoo; 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.
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. Later, a petting zoo was added to the park.
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. By 1946, the park included tennis courts.
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:
- Baghera, the black jaguar from Peter Benchley's Amazon
- a bevy of camels from The 13th Warrior starring Antonio Banderas
- Ron and Julie, siblings hybrid Bengal/Siberian tiger starring in the Discovery Channel/Animal Planet documentary, Living with Tigers
- Caesar, the lion from The Ghost and the Darkness
- Billy, the white Bengal tiger from the TV series Animorphs
- the late Bongo, the lion from the movies The Ghost and the Darkness & George of the Jungle and from the TV series Animorphs
- Maggie the Macaque, known for her Stanley Cup Playoffs predictions
- Jonas, the Bengal tiger from the film adaptation of Life of Pi
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. With her death and closure of Toronto Zoo's elephant exhibit, the only zoo in Ontario with elephants is the African Lion Safari.
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.
The zoo participates in breeding programs for endangered species, and also accepts retired circus animals.
In December 2015, the Bowmanville Zoo owner, Michael Hackenberger was accused by PETA of animal cruelty. 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.
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.
On December 23, 2015 The OSPCA attended the Bowmanville Zoological Park and they observed no grounds to remove any animals from the premises.
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.
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