Update: August 6, 2020
Today’s decision marks the end of the road for Tim Stark’s efforts to cling to his U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) license. The infamous animal exploiter lost his final appeal, and his exhibitor license is now permanently revoked!
Stark can never again force frightened bear cubs, sloths, spider monkeys, or any other USDA-regulated species into his cruel animal encounters. Thanks to PETA’s recent court victory, his “Tiger Baby Playtime” days are over, too—and we look forward to a day when the animals are living at a reputable sanctuary, undisturbed and in peace.
Update: April 13, 2020
Two months after a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) order revoking notorious animal exhibitor Tim Stark‘s license and requiring him and his shoddy facility, Wildlife in Need, to pay a combined $340,000 in civil penalties, Stark just lost his appeal in the USDA administrative lawsuit against him and his roadside zoo.
PETA applauds the judgment, as no one who has encouraged patrons to hit tiger cubs, swung and tossed monkeys by their tails and hips during public encounters, and bludgeoned a leopard to death with a baseball bat—all of which Stark has done—should have a federal Animal Welfare Act exhibitor’s license.
Stark has 60 days to appeal the USDA’s ruling to a federal court, and in the meantime, PETA is continuing to call for the animals in his custody to be transferred to reputable facilities—and urging everyone to stay away from roadside zoos.
Originally published February 7, 2020:
After years of PETA action, another animal abuser is in serious trouble. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just issued an order to revoke notorious animal exhibitor Tim Stark‘s license permanently and ordered him and his sham “sanctuary,” Wildlife in Need, to pay a total of $340,000 in civil penalties—$40,000 of which was assessed against Stark individually. The issue will go into effect 35 days after the date of the order if Stark and Wildlife in Need don’t appeal.
Stark is well known to animal advocates and the USDA. The agency filed an administrative lawsuit against Wildlife in Need (based in Charlestown, Indiana), alleging more than 120 willful violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act between 2012 and 2016. These include when Stark instructed patrons to hit big-cat cubs during “Tiger Baby Playtime” events, swung and tossed monkeys by their tails and hips during public encounters, and bludgeoned a leopard to death with a baseball bat.
The court also found that he went months without an attending veterinarian and provided a USDA inspector with an official document bearing the forged signature of a veterinarian who hadn’t been the facility’s attending vet in years. Numerous animals died at the facility of preventable causes, including a kangaroo and three otters who were denied veterinary care, big-cat cubs who were declawed and later died of their injuries, and 41 animals who died in a fire.
“The USDA has effectively cut Stark off at the knees, preventing him from continuing to torment and exploit vulnerable lemurs, sloths, dogs, and other animals for a quick buck,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA looks forward to seeing this terrible place shut down and the animals moved to reputable facilities where they’ll never again be used for photo ops.”
The ruling is a historic victory for animals. PETA is pressing forward with our pending Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit against Stark and Wildlife in Need, aiming to get endangered and threatened animals out of his hands and into reputable facilities.
PETA won a preliminary injunction early in the case that prevents Stark from carrying out abusive activities—including declawing big cats, prematurely separating cubs from their mothers without medical necessity, and holding “Tiger Baby Playtime” events, in which cubs can be subjected to hours of direct contact with the public—while the case is being decided. A second PETA lawsuit against the sham sanctuary’s attending veterinarian resulted in a first-of-its-kind agreed-upon ruling holding that declawing ESA-protected big cats without medical necessity violates the ESA.
We’ll continue working until every animal at Wildlife in Need is in a reputable facility. You can take action right now to help us get animals out of abusive roadside zoos: