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Judge Rules Indiana Exotic Animal Petting Zoo Owner Violated Federal Law

(Steve Burns, WFIU/WTIU)

A federal judge dealt another legal blow to the owner of a Wildlife refuge in southern Indiana.

A New Albany judge ruled Tim Stark, owner of Wild life in Need in Charlestown, violated the Federal Endangered Species act when he separated big cat cubs from their mothers.

The Endangered Species Act forbids anyone from harassing or hurting exotic animals.

“PETA will be filing a motion with the court in the next 30 days to have what’s called a special master appointed to help identify a reputable sanctuary where the big cats can go,” said Asher Smith, counsel for the People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Stark is no stranger controversy; his zoo was featured in the Netflix series “Tiger King.”  PETA filed a complaint against Stark after he botched a de-clawing procedure on two tiger cubs. 

A judge previously ruled Stark violated another federal law that caused his exhibitor’s license to be revoked. Federal officials say Stark bragged about beating a leopard to death with a baseball bat and has repeatedly chased wildlife inspectors off his property.

“PETA looks forward to using this decision to shut down other roadside shows like WIN and make it clear that they can’t conduct similar cub petting, they can’t separate cubs from their mothers,” Smith said. 

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill filed an injunction against Wildlife in Need in February asking a state court to place Stark’s animals into a court-approved sanctuary and dissolve the non-profit’s assets.