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Justin Bieber issued formal warning over big cat encounters

Justin Bieber has been officially warned against posing with big cats by authorities in Toronto, Canada, after getting close to the animals earlier this year (16).

The Baby hitmaker hit headlines in April (16) when he was photographed cuddling up to a Bengal tiger at his dad Jeremy's engagement party.

He was then pictured playing with another exotic animal, Alex the Lion - a white lion cub owned by millionaire entrepreneur Alex Haditaghi - before his concert in the city in May (16).

On both occasions, the 22-year-old was blasted by animal rights activists for appearing to promote keeping big cats in captivity, and now officials at Toronto Animal Services have issued him with a formal violation notice over the incidents.

They alerted Bieber and his manager Scooter Braun to the notice in a letter, obtained by bosses at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), in which they cite Toronto's municipal code, which bans keeping big cats, such as tigers, lions, and cougars, in the Ontario capital.

"No reputable animal-care facility lends out exotic animals for private parties and backstage Instagram photos," PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet says in a statement. "PETA hopes the authorities' warning to Justin Bieber will remind people everywhere that lions and tigers are sensitive living animals, not selfie props."

According to PETA, warning missives were also issued to bosses at Bowmanville Zoo, which provided the big cats, and associate Haditaghi. The zoo is owned by disgraced Hollywood animal trainer Michael Hackenberger, who is currently facing five counts of animal abuse.

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