By: Kylie Vaillancourt & Natalie Dixon

The Bowmanville Zoo closed for good on Monday after 97 years.

Zoo officials say that the cause of closure was bad publicity. Within the last year, videos have been released by PETA showing abuse towards the animals at the zoo. One video appears to show the zoo owner Michael Hackenberger whipping a tiger as he explains his method for training animals.

The zoo’s attendance dropped enough that it was forced to close. For the final day of operation, Thanksgiving Monday, admission was free.

Jenni James from PETA says the zoo shutting down is a good thing.

“It’s a cause for celebration,” she told Humber News on Tuesday. “This teaches us that we cannot bully animals.”

PETA says that animals are not ours to use for entertainment purposes.

Rob Laidlaw of Zoocheck says his organization has expressed concern specifically about Bowmanville for a while.

Zoocheck works to promote animal protection in specific situations such as this one.

“We’re very pleased,” he said.

Though this is a good step forward, he said there’s more work to do for animal rights.

Laidlaw said the zoo closing down definitely reflects the public’s changing attitude toward these sorts of incidents.

“Concerns all around, along with the released PETA video, enabled this zoo to be closed down,” said Laidlaw.

Hackenberger stepped down from his position in April after animal cruelty charges were laid on him.

Niagara resident Miriam Zine is a passionate animal lover and sees the treatment of zoo animals as cruel.

“I don’t think any wild animal deserves to be living their whole life in a zoo, not only this one but we’ve heard countless other stories of animals getting treated brutally, it’s not uncommon and it’s sad,” said Zine who has been involved in animal rights protests.

Another video posted by PETA doesn’t necessarily show abuse but explains how the zoo uses fear and intimidation to train animals.

Durhamregion.com reported on Tuesday that two lions will be going to Cherry Brook Zoo in St. John, N.B., and two camels will be going to Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Ayesford, N.S.

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