The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ripped Justin Bieber on Monday after he posted a photo petting a tiger at a party over the weekend. The exotic animal came from the Bowmanville Zoo outside of Toronto, whose owner was recently charged with animal cruelty.
Bieber snapped a photo petting the leashed tiger. PETA condemned the “Sorry” singer in a blog post that informed readers “exotic animals used for entertainment are usually torn away from their mothers at a young age, beaten into submission by trainers, and forced to live in cramped enclosures.”
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Bieber’s Father Hosted the Party With the Tiger & Other Animals
PETA reported that Bieber’s father Jeremy hosted a party on Saturday with exotic animals on loan from the Bowmanville Zoo, including a full-size tiger. His son snapped a photo petting the wild cat and posted it to his Instagram, but with no caption. The tiger was lying on the grass wearing a leash.
The animal rights organization weren’t the only people angry at Bieber for posing with the tiger. His Instagram followers also vented their frustration in comments on the photo.
“This is awful! Posting this picture shows that you accept the abuse of animals for our own entertainment, and further fuels the exotic animal industry! Please take this photo down!” Instagram user @averyd99 wrote.
“Disappointing! Shame as a celebrity you don’t know better!” @leahwatson2013 wrote.
Others Beliebers defended the pop star.
“No one said it was okay, but he went to a party. Was he supposed to look at the animal and know it was abused?” @sydneemwilliams commented.
2. The Tiger Came From the Bowmanville Zoo
Bieber’s father rented the tiger from the local Bowmanville Zoo in Clarington, Ontario, located about 45 miles east of Toronto. It is Canada’s oldest private zoo, established in 1919, and is one of the largest providers for animals in movies, television shows, commercials, magazines and advertisements, according to Clarington.com.
3. The Zoo’s Owner Faces 5 Charges of Animal Cruelty
The Bowmanville Zoo’s owner and head trainer, Michael Hackenberger, is facing charges of animal cruelty after video surfaced showing him whipping a tiger during a training session. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals began investigating Hackenberger when the video went viral in December, according to CBC News.
The trainer was charged with four counts of causing an animal distress and one of failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for an animal. Three of the distress charges are related to the use of a whip.
Hackenberger chose to step down from his position as director on April 16. He made the announcement on his Facebook page.
While I am not guilty of the charges against me, the welfare of the zoo and the animals that it serves has always been my principal concern. To this end I am standing down from the position of director of Bowmanville Zoo until such time as this legal matter is resolved. To all who have reached out in support I thank you. Your encouragement has been a tonic in these difficult times.
4. Hackenberger Has a History of Abuse Against His Animals
In August 2015, the Canadian morning show Breakfast Television aired a video of Hackenberger swearing at a baboon during a training session. The primate was riding on a donkey’s back and when it fell off, the zoo trainer yelled at the baboon and called it a “c***s*****.”
Hackenberger issued a statement apologizing for his “offensive language” in a moment of “exasperation,” according to the Toronto Sun.
No one has ever called me a saint, or likely ever will,” Hackenberger said. “But I love my animals and continue to try to do my best to make a difference in the world.”
5. PETA Said Bieber & His Guests Were ‘Lucky’ the Tiger Didn’t Attack
Due to their life in captivity, wild animals can be known to attack in similar situation like the Bieber party. In its condemnation of Bieber, PETA said “animals have been known to lash out because of the stress of their miserable lives.”
The organization encouraged others to not host or support parties where animals are used as entertainment. “Every dollar spent on these events and every selfie taken with a helpless captive animal supports animal suffering,” PETA wrote.