Categories: Zoos

Roadside zoo “Wildlife in Need” – further court injunction stopping big cat abuse

Tim Stark owns a controversial Indiana roadside zoo called “Wildlife in Need” (an ironic name as the cats in it are in desparate need of removal from the place). He is associated with Jo Exotic who is currently in prison serving a life sentence for conspiracy to murder Carole Baskin. The news out today is that a Southern Indiana District Court judge has made yet another ruling against this zoo. My research indicates that there is a long line of rulings by judges against this business. All the rulings that I have read are based on Stark’s wilful violations of animal welfare acts in abusing the animals in his charge.

Stark and his zoo. This is images are in the public domain and the montage is created by PoC.

In the latest ruling, as reported, the judge stated that Stark and his director Melissa Lane had violated the Endangered Species Act by “taking tigers, lions and hybrids thereof and wounded, harmed and/or harassed at least twenty-two big cats via declawing”.

It is reported that 53 cats were also harmed by being separated from their mothers too early i.e. before they are weaned (my comment). Stark and his director and associates are barred from declawing big cats and from separating offspring from their mothers within the first two years without medical reason. They are also barred from allowing visitors to the zoo to touch cubs and from displaying them in public encounters. Also, they have to give up ownership of any cat acquired through violation of the Endangered Species Act.

The case was brought by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). This is a very long-running battle by animal advocates against a man who on the face of it, as reported, has had a very long history of wild animal abuse at his business (as did Joe Exotic – they are two of a kind). Anybody can see that quite quickly by researching the matter. I won’t bore you with going through every line of the injunctions against him. Previous injunctions were probably temporary and have been renewed by further cases. However, the fact that there has to be continued injunctions indicates continuing abuses by Stark and his team.

PETA, of course, are delighted and thank the court for the order. They argue that Tim Stark must be stopped from abusing big cats and flouting the laws designed to protect them. Tim Stark, on his website, argues that whistleblowers have lied and conspired against him, that the case against him is a waste of tax dollars, that the case against him is frivolous and he wants his supporters to lobby the Indiana Gov and the Indiana Atty Gen to request that they stop wasting tax dollars. He basically wants the case is dropped and he wants the prosecution service to agree to his request.

Stark is asking supporters to take action by close of business this Thursday, sixth August. I’m not sure why he has specified that date because the case that I referred to has taken place. Perhaps there will be a follow-up hearing. As I said earlier, this is a long-running battle with several court cases, several injunctions and court orders preventing this man’s continued abuse of wild animals.


I have to write briefly about my views on declawing. This is a highly objectionable process. I destest it. To declaw big cats is the height of cruelty. If you read the articles of Jennifer Conrad DVM of the Paw Project you will understand that there are many instances of declawing big cats which have left the cats crippled. She has carried out repair surgery on some of these cats to remove shards of bone and repair other botched surgeries to try and give them some of their life back.

We have to criticise the veterinary surgeons who carried out the surgery on the request of Mr Stark. They are equally culpable in this animal cruelty. Obviously the reason why he wants to declaw the cats is because he allows people to interact with them and touch them. He wants to protect the people. It’s all about business and commerce at the expense animal welfare. It is a clear abuse in my opinion. But my opinion is irrelevant because the judge has been convinced that he has been abusing animals. He has seen all the evidence.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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