PETA Submits USDA Complaint After Video Shows Tim Stark Dangling Distressed Bear Cub by Mouth During 'Tiger Baby Playtime'
For Immediate Release:
May 18, 2017
David Perle 202-483-7382
Charlestown, Ind. – Today, PETA sent a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate animal exhibitor Tim Stark—owner of a Charlestown roadside zoo called Wildlife in Need—for apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act after he was caught on video cruelly handling a bear cub during his regular “Tiger Baby Playtime” event. PETA has also asked the USDA to confiscate the animal.
In the video, Stark dangles the 14-week-old cub—who, in the wild, would be with her mother until 2 years old—by her mouth, putting her at risk of damaging her teeth and back and neck muscles. Even after she has been placed on Stark’s lap, she screams in distress with her ears pulled back, urinating out of fear and even biting his hand, signaling that she has been pushed past the flight response into a fight reaction.
“Tim Stark terrorized this baby bear in front of a boisterous crowd as she screamed, struggled to escape, and lashed out in self-defense,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA stands ready to help authorities find a reputable sanctuary for this traumatized cub where she could receive the care that she desperately needs.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that Stark has a long history of abusing animals. He pleaded guilty to trafficking an endangered ocelot in 2008, and USDA records show that he has repeatedly failed to document the transfers of many protected animals to and from his facility. In 2013, he claimed that two baby leopards were suffering from metabolic bone disease, despite admitting to never consulting with a veterinarian. Within weeks, one leopard was found dead, and Stark claimed to have beaten the other to death with a baseball bat after finding the animal gasping for air. He was also caught on video telling visitors to smack tigers on the nose if they get too “rowdy” during Tiger Baby Playtime.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.