Feds File Complaint Over 100+ Alleged Violations at ‘Wildlife in Need’

Allegations Against Notorious Roadside Zoo Include Physical Abuse, Inadequate Veterinary Care; PETA Urges Families to Stay Away

For Immediate Release:
July 14, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

Charlestown, Ind. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has just filed a formal complaint against Tim Stark’s Charlestown roadside zoo, Wildlife in Need—a notoriously abusive facility that PETA has tracked for years—which offers “playtime” events in which baby wild animals who have been torn away from their mothers are passed around for selfies.

The 24-page complaint alleges 118 willful violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act since 2012, including numerous reports of inadequate veterinary care—such as Stark’s failure to obtain treatment for leopards suffering from metabolic bone disease, one of whom he “euthanized” by beating her to death with a baseball bat. Other allegations include physical abuse, such as exposing animals to rough and excessive public handling during “playtime” and hitting tigers with a riding crop.

This complaint is the first step in a disciplinary process that could result in a fine of up to $10,000 per violation or a suspended or revoked license.

“PETA is urging everyone to stay away from this scofflaw animal abuser,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “This operation needs to be shut down and the animals retired to reputable sanctuaries, where they won’t be beaten, denied veterinary care, and passed around as selfie props.”

Last fall, after PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—alerted authorities to concerned visitors’ reports, the USDA cited Stark for smacking tiger cubs with a riding crop, dragging exhausted cubs around during “playtime,” and public endangerment. The USDA’s complaint includes these allegations as well as several others noted during a January 2016 inspection, such as Stark’s derogatory, hostile, and argumentative behavior toward USDA inspectors.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind