Justin Bieber uploaded a photo of him petting a Bengal tiger onto his Instagram page on April 30—actions that has angered the animals rights organization, PETA.
“What Justin and other party guests probably don’t know is that Michael Hackenberger, the owner of that zoo, was recently charged with five counts of cruelty to animals because of PETA’s undercover footage, which shows him viciously whipping a young tiger during a ‘training’ session and then bragging about it,” PETA wrote on May 1. “Hackenberger has supplied tigers for films such as Life of Pi and The Interview.”
“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. They may even be fed sedatives so that they’re docile during events and parties like the one Justin attended,” the company continued.
“Tigers used in this way are denied everything that they need to be happy, and we can only imagine that the tiger Justin posed with has experienced a life of misery. Justin and other guests are lucky that they weren’t attacked by the wild animals. In similar situations, animals have been known to lash out because of the stress of their miserable lives.”
Bieber was in attendance at his father’s engagement party in Toronto on Saturday. Ontario’s Bowmanville Zoo is said to have provided the animals for the event, though the zoo “could not confirm or deny.”
Bowmanville Zoo has been caught up in controversy before when the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) filed five animal cruelty charges against zoo owner, Michael Hackenberger, after a video exposed Hackenberger whipping a Siberian tiger.
Bieber’s father, Jeremy, 40, is set to marry 28-year-old Chelsey Rebelo. The couple announced their engagement in February.
Bieber has yet to publicly issue a response to the criticism of his Instagram post.