Justin Bieber has been officially warned by Toronto authorities against cuddling lion cubs on camera during future visits to the city.
The notice of violation issued by Toronto Animal Services and obtained Thursday from animal protection group PETA follows public complaints received by the city’s animal licensing agency after Bieber on two occasions in April and May posed in photographs with big cats.
The photo ops had Bieber at one party cuddling a lion cub and then posing with a chained Bengal tiger during a VIP engagement party in Toronto for his father. Toronto Animal Services, in a letter to Bieber and manager Scooter Braun at Island Def Jam Group, cited a municipal code that bars the “keeping” of wild animals such as lions, tigers and cougars in the city, except for domestic cats.
The Toronto authorities said Bieber breached that law when he “exhibited” young wild animals in the city on two occasions. “Attached is a notice of violation seeking compliance forthwith for any future visits to the city of Toronto,” Carl Bandow, supervisor of Toronto Animal Services’ enforcement unit, added in the letter.
In an email to The Hollywood Reporter, Bandow confirmed that a notice and a request for compliance was sent to Bieber and that no response had been received. Moira Colley, a spokeswoman for PETA, said Bieber was wrong to pose in selfies with wild animals.
“It is clear Justin has a heart for animals and, like most people, just isn’t aware of what happens behind the scenes,” Colley said in a statement. PETA said the juvenile tiger that appeared at the engagement party for Bieber’s father came from the Bowmanville Zoo, where the owner, Michael Hackenberger, a tiger trainer for Hollywood movies, faces five animal cruelty charges after being allegedly caught on video whipping a Siberian tiger in his care.