Roadside Zoo Operator Suspected of Violating Endangered Species Act

PETA Sends Authorities Video of Tim Stark Instructing Visitors to Smack Endangered Tigers, Report of Visitors Injured During ‘Tiger Playtime’

For Immediate Release:
October 21, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Charlestown, Ind.

Today, PETA sent a letter calling on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to investigate animal exhibitor Tim Stark—owner of a Charlestown roadside zoo called Wildlife in Need—for apparent violations of the Endangered Species Act in relation to the suspicious deaths of three protected leopards and his undocumented acquisition of various protected animals.

As PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes in its letter, Stark acquired two baby leopards in 2013 and claimed that they were suffering from metabolic bone disease, despite admitting to never consulting with a veterinarian. Within weeks, one leopard was found dead, and Stark killed the other leopard after finding the animal gasping for air. Stark pleaded guilty to the trafficking of an endangered ocelot in 2008, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) records show that he has a history of failing to document the transfers of many protected animals to and from his facility. PETA has also asked the FWS to investigate whether Stark was responsible for the escape of a leopard who was eventually shot and killed a mile away from his facility in 2013.

Stark was also recently caught on video telling visitors to hit tigers on the nose if they get too “rowdy” during his “Tiger Baby Playtime,” during which tigers were free to pounce and jump on visitors. A very recent USDA inspection report of “Tiger Baby Playtime” reveals that members of the public, including a young child, have been bitten or scratched and that a tiger even drew blood from a USDA inspector.

“The Endangered Species Act prohibits harassing endangered animals—and by telling visitors to smack young tigers, that’s exactly what Tim Stark appears to have done,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is asking authorities to hold this man accountable for the laws that he appears to have broken, including the harm that he inflicted on the endangered animals he fatally denied veterinary care.”

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