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Bowmanville Zoo closing today after animal cruelty scandal

Last Updated Oct 10, 2016 at 9:33 pm EDT

After 97 years in operation and plenty of controversy, the Bowmanville Zoo is officially closing its doors Monday afternoon.

Last December, PETA posted a portion of an undercover video online, which showed the zoo’s co-owner, Michael Hackenberger allegedly whipping a tiger during a training session.

The OSPCA launched an investigation and Hackenberger was charged with five counts of animal cruelty.

After the controversy, attendance for the 2016 season dropped so significantly that Hackenberger and zoo staff were forced to make the decision to shut down.

Feelings were mixed about the zoo’s closure.

“They do a lot of education for children,” one visitor to the zoo said. “I think there are a lot of children who come here and enjoy learning.”

There were people outside the zoo on Monday protesting, saying the closure is a victory for animal rights.

These animals have been treated poorly,” another visitor said. “I’m here today because it’s a celebration that the zoo is finally closing due to public pressure.”

The first animals will be leaving the zoo on Tuesday.

It is unclear what will happen to the property.