TORONTO – The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is investigating claims a staff member at the Bowmanville Zoo repeatedly shot a giraffe with a BB gun.
Animal rights group PETA says that an alleged eyewitness says they saw a woman in what appeared to be a zoo uniform fire seven times at the giraffe, after closing time at the zoo on June 25.
PETA notified the OSPCA on Tuesday.
The Bowmanville Zoo, an exotic animal attraction east of Toronto, is set to close this year after the zoo said previous allegations of animal cruelty caused a drop in attendance.
The zoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the BB gun allegations.
PETA has also released video of a BB gun hanging on the wall of what the organization says is the Bowmanville Zoo’s baboon barn.
In the video, a woman is heard saying the BB gun is a “tool” to get the animals to behave, but that it is not loaded and is not used to hurt animals. Asked if it is the sound of the gun that frightens the animals, she responds in the affirmative.
In April, the OSPCA charged Bowmanville Zoo owner Michael Hackenberger with four counts of causing animal distress and one count of failing to comply with prescribed standards of animal care.
The charges stemmed from a hidden-camera video released by PETA in December 2015, which appeared to show Hackenberger whipping a Siberian tiger during a training session.
Hackenberger denied the allegations and a spokesman has said the zoo supports its owner and believes he is innocent.
If a person is found guilty of animal cruelty in Ontario, they can face a maximum sentence of two years in jail, a fine of $60,000 and a lifetime ban from owning animals.