Tim Stark has permanently lost his federal exhibitor’s license. ‘He can never again force frightened bear cubs, sloths, spider monkeys, or any other USDA-regulated species into his cruel animal encounters’
Wildlife in Need Founder Tim Stark will no longer be allowed to exploit exotic animals for commercial gains.
The decision was passed by a federal judge who dismissed Stark’s appeal regarding his exhibitor’s license, marking the “end of the road” for the southern Indiana zoo owner.
With the new ruling, Stark, his ex-wife Melisa Lane, and other staff of the zoo can no longer host public interactions with tiger cubs, separate cubs from their mothers, declaw them, or hold any tiger/lion cub hybrids on its premises.
The self-proclaimed animal refuge Wildlife in Need (WIN), who also featured in the Netflix series “Tiger King” has been providing the public with unmatched access to exotic animals in Southern Indiana for more than 20 years.
The United States Department of Agriculture USDA revoked his license in April in light of several controversies including lawsuits, failed inspections, and allegations of animal abuse.
According to the USDA, Stark violated the animal welfare act more than 100 times between January 2012 and January 2016 and presented evidence in the form of 101 admitted exhibits and over 2,000 pages of transcript including testimonies of 25 witnesses.
‘Not an animal abuser’
While Stark appealed the ruling citing 10 categories of alleged error, he clarified stating: “I am not an animal abuser, I have made mistakes.”
However, the Indiana Attorney General, looking to shut the non-profit down for good also filed a lawsuit stating the animals in Stark’s care were living in appalling conditions and needed to be moved to proper sanctuaries furthering the nail in Stark’s coffin.
‘End of the road’
PETA welcomed the dismissal of Stark’s appeal, which comes on the back of PETA’s recent court victory against the zoo owner.
PETA filed an Endangered Species Act lawsuit in 2017 following an eyewitness investigation that exposed WIN prematurely separated big-cat cubs from their mothers to be used in “Tiger Baby Playtime” public encounters and caused cubs immense distress and suffering as a result of declawing procedures. It was reported that two cubs even died after being declawed.
In a statement, Brittany Peet, foundation director of captive animal law enforcement, said: “Today’s decision marks the end of the road for Tim Stark’s efforts to cling to his USDA license, which is now permanently revoked.
“He can never again force frightened bear cubs, sloths, spider monkeys, or any other USDA-regulated species into his cruel animal encounters, and thanks to PETA’s recent court victory, his ‘Tiger Baby Playtime’ days are over, too.
“PETA looks forward to the day when the animals are living at a reputable sanctuary, undisturbed and in peace.”
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