8:40 AM PT-- Hackenberger just announced he is stepping down as Director of the zoo ... but still proclaims his innocence.Bowmanville Zoo owner Michael Hackenberger, the trainer PETA filmed whipping a tiger, has been charged with 5 counts of animal cruelty by Ontario's SPCA.
The SPCA filed the charges Wednesday after thoroughly reviewing the Bowmanville Zoo, which he owns and where he trains his animals.
The charges against Hackenberger are based on the video which surfaced 4 months ago, and include causing the animal distress by striking it with a whip handle, repeatedly striking it with a whip, and pushing his thumb into the animal’s eye.
He was also charged for failing to comply with the animal care standards required by law. In Canada, the SPCA has the right to remove animals and file charges. For now, it's only closely monitoring Hackenberger's zoo.
PETA says it's pleased Hackenberger was charged and hopes this ends his "torment of animals made to suffer for human entertainment."