Feds Asked to Investigate Animal Deaths at Roadside Zoo

PETA Alerts Authorities: Animals Died of ‘Sudden Fights,’ ‘Incompatibility,’ and Other Apparently Preventable Causes

For Immediate Release:
February 18, 2015

Brittany Peet 202-483-7382

Charlestown, Ind.

In a recent application for a captive-bred wildlife permit, Tim Stark—owner of a Charlestown roadside zoo called Wildlife in Need—admitted that multiple animals at his facility have died of apparently preventable causes in the last five years. This latest report of Stark’s reported failure to care for animals properly has prompted PETA to send a letter this morning to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling on the agency to investigate whether the deaths violate the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

As PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes in the letter, the deaths include those of a black bear who was killed by another bear, a bear who was euthanized because of “incompatibility” with other bears, two ruffled lemurs who died because of a malfunctioning heater, and two ring-tailed lemurs who died because of “sudden fights.” The AWA requires that animals be housed safely and handled in a manner that doesn’t cause them physical harm or discomfort.

“Each one of these deaths likely could have been prevented if Tim Stark had taken any reasonable care with these animals,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the authorities to make sure that this man doesn’t get away with harming animals or thumbing his nose at the laws designed to protect them.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org. I can be reached at 202-540-2194 or [email protected] if you have any questions.

PETA’s letter to the USDA follows.


February 18, 2015

Elizabeth Goldentyer, D.V.M.
Eastern Regional Director
USDA-APHIS-Animal Care

Re:      Request for Investigation of Reported Numerous Animal Deaths at Wildlife in Need

Dear Dr. Goldentyer:

I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to request that the U.S. Department of Agriculture promptly investigate Wildlife in Need, owned by Tim Stark (license no. 32-C-0204). According to p. 6 of Stark’s attached U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Captive-Bred Wildlife permit application, the following animals have died at Wildlife in Need during the five years prior to 2014, in apparent violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA):

  • A black bear, who was “[k]illed by another bear,” in apparent violation of 9 C.F.R. § 3.133 (“Animals housed in the same primary enclosure must be compatible. Animals shall not be housed near animals that interfere with their health or cause them discomfort”) and § 2.131 (b)(1) (“Handling of all animals shall be done as expeditiously and carefully as possible in a manner that does not cause trauma … excessive cooling, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort”)
  • A Syrian bear, who was “[e]uthanized due to incompatibility with other bears,” in possible violation of 9 C.F.R. § 3.133 and § 2.131(b)(1)
  • Two ruffed lemurs, who died because of a “[m]alfunctioning heater,” in apparent violation of 9 C.F.R. § 2.131(e) (“An animal may never be subjected to any combination of temperature … and time that is detrimental to the animal’s health or well-being”), § 2.131(b)(1), and either 3.76 (“Indoor housing facilities must be sufficiently heated … when necessary to protect nonhuman primates from temperature extremes and to provide for their health and well-being”) or § 3.78(b) (“Outdoor housing facilities for nonhuman primates must provide adequate shelter [that] provide[s] protection from the … cold”)
  • Two ring-tailed lemurs, who died because of “sudden fights” in 2012 and 2014, in apparent violation of 9 C.F.R § 2.131 (b)(1)

Please examine Stark’s veterinary and disposition records and hold him fully accountable for any and all violations, including of 9 C.F.R § 2.40 if he failed to provide these animals with veterinary care, keeping in mind his long history of violating the AWA. Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please inform me of the complaint number that your agency assigns to this correspondence.

Very truly yours,

Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Deputy General Counsel | Captive Animal Law Enforcement
PETA Foundation

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