Roadside Zoo Operator Caught on Video Hitting Agitated Tiger Cub

Visitors Instructed to Strike Cubs During Public Interactions

For Immediate Release:
August 21, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Charlestown, Ind.

Telling visitors that this is “what [a] pissed off [baby tiger] looks like,” Tim Stark, owner of a Charlestown roadside zoo called Wildlife in Need, was caught on video holding an agitated tiger cub by the nape of the neck, hitting the cub after the struggling animal tried to bite him, and dropping the cub onto a guest’s lap. Stark also tells visitors who want to interact with the baby tigers to hit their nose if they get too “rowdy.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is today asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the incident, inspect the roadside zoo, and hold Stark accountable if he’s hurting animals or putting the public at risk in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

“Encouraging the public to handle vulnerable cubs roughly and to hit them when they resist is cruel,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is asking authorities to inspect this outfit immediately—and is also warning families that the deceitfully named Wildlife in Need is no place to take kids or anyone else who cares about animals.”

In addition to having pleaded guilty to illegally trafficking an ocelot, Stark has been cited repeatedly by the USDA for animal welfare violations—including for keeping tigers and a lion in cages from which they can “easily” escape, providing bears and tigers with water that contains “floating clumps of algae,” failing to provide animals with any shelter from the heat, and having cages containing broken boards with long, rusty nails where the animals have to walk. Last year, according to a USDA inspection report, the zoo had no attending veterinarian and two sick leopards died without receiving any veterinary treatment.

Stark also exposes the public to possible injuries and zoonotic diseases by apparently allowing anyone—including small children—to hold and pet wild animals, and he recently admitted to a USDA inspector that visitors have been scratched and bitten but dismissed the incidents, saying that “a little blood is nothing.”

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