Life Of Pi tiger trainer Michael Hackenberger has resigned after being charged with five counts of animal cruelty by the Ontario SPCA.
The allegations first arose in December of 2015 after PETA posted an undercover video online showing the Bowmanville Zoo owner beating a young tiger 19 times.
Hackenberger supplied the tiger for the hit 2012 film The Life of Pi and also trained animals for James Franco’s The Interview.
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has legal authority in animal welfare cases and filed the charges after spending “significant time reviewing the facility and interviewing all involved.”
Hackenberger was found to have struck the male Siberian tiger, Uno, in the face and elsewhere on the body with a whip. This incident caused the animal distress as he pushed his thumb into the animal’s eye.
The Life of Pi film was first in the spotlight after its release as questions arose over the treatment of the animal used to play Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger stranded on a life raft with the main character in the film, Pi Patel.
At the time of its release, The Hollywood Reporter investigated the film and was shown emails in which an American Humane Association claimed that the tiger nearly drowned during the shooting of scenes within a giant water tank. Director Ang Lee was said to consider these incidents “accidents”.
Source: Business of Cinema