Michael Hackenberger, the animal trainer who has worked on movies like “The Interview” and “Life of Pi,” is coming under fire after a video allegedly showing him viciously whipping and cursing at a tiger has appeared online.
In the video, which was released by PETA, Hackberger says, “I like hitting them in the face and the paws, which gets the paws off the … And the beauty of the paws being on the rock, when you hit them, it’s like a vice … it stings more.”
The clip, which runs over over a minute-and-a-half, also features Hackenberger saying, “If we’d been running a tape 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.”
The irony is almost palpable.
It took almost no time for Hackenberger to release a video rebuttal of PETA’s claims that he abuses his animals, in a half-hour long video of his own.
“We feel the images captured are misrepresented by PETA and I would go so far as to say they’re a lie,” he claims.
While he apologizes for the harsh language used in the video, he says the what looked like whipping wasn’t actually making contact with the animal at all. Instead, he claims he was striking the ground next to the tiger.
As for the clip of him saying he likes hitting the tiger in the face and paws, Hackenberger claims PETA created that particular moment of the clip, though he doesn’t explain how. “I did not say those words,” he says. “I did not.”
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokeswoman Alison Cross confirms an investigation into Hackenberger is now underway.