Charlestown Roadside Zoo Slapped With Notice of Intent to Sue

PETA Alleges ‘Wildlife in Need’ Owner Tim Stark Illegally Harms, Harasses Big Cats

For Immediate Release:
July 28, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Charlestown, Ind.

PETA has sent an official notice to Tim Stark, owner and operator of the roadside zoo Wildlife in Need, warning him of its intent to sue in U.S. federal court under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) over his mistreatment and abuse of the tigers and lions who are kept there. The ESA requires plaintiffs to inform potential defendants at least 60 days prior to legal action.

In its eight-page notice letter, PETA states that Stark has declawed tiger and lion cubs in violation of longstanding federal law. Furthermore, declawing leaves big cats with chronic lameness, pain, and psychological distress, as their claws are essential for species-specific behavior such as digging. PETA also alleges that Stark’s “Tiger Baby Playtime” events—in which baby wild animals who have been prematurely torn away from their mothers are passed around for public encounters and photo ops—violate federal laws protecting tigers and lions from harm, abuse, mistreatment, and harassment.

PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet says, “PETA is challenging this facility’s systemic cruelty, which includes tormenting terrified cubs, separating them from their mothers, and amputating their toes at the last joint, leaving them with a lifetime of physical and mental complications.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that Stark has racked up more than 50 animal-welfare violations since 2012. A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report notes that he has declawed at least 20 exotic felines, two of whom had “[s]evere complications” from the surgery, and Wildlife in Need’s veterinarian acknowledged that one cub had only a 50 percent chance of survival. The report also indicated that Stark fabricated records in an apparent attempt to conceal the presence of the two ailing cubs, whom he attempted to hide on the property. His license to exhibit animals was suspended for 21 days following this inspection.

During a follow-up inspection, Stark was cited for operating while his license was suspended and denying entry to inspectors while carrying a gun on his person in an apparent intimidation tactic.

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