STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Indiana AG sues wildlife center for alleged history of abuse

Indiana’s attorney general is suing a wildlife center for allegedly abusing exotic animals, including incidents where the non-profit's owner punched a sloth in the face and repeatedly stomped on a tiger cub that had bitten him.

Posted: Feb 17, 2020 10:06 AM

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (AP) — Indiana’s attorney general is suing a wildlife center for allegedly abusing exotic animals, including incidents where the non-profit's owner punched a sloth in the face and repeatedly stomped on a tiger cub that had bitten him.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday by Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office seeks for the animals to be transferred from Wildlife in Need into court-approved animal sanctuaries. The Charlestown wildlife center, which is owned by Tim Stark, offers close-up encounters with wildlife and says it rescues and rehabilitate animals.

It has been the subject of controversy over the years with numerous allegations of abuse. Stark has run the wildlife center since 1999.

The lawsuit comes several days after the U.S. Department of Agriculture rescinded the wildlife center’s license to exhibit warm-blooded animals, including big cats, bears and monkeys.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cited more than 120 violations of the Animal Welfare Act and ordered the nonprofit to pay $340,000 in civil penalties, which includes $40,000 to be paid directly by Stark.

A 183-page summary of the complaints against Stark includes failure to provide sufficient veterinary support to sick and dying animals, fatally beating a leopard with a baseball bat, forging the signature of a veterinarian who had not been in practice for years and harassing government officials.

Stark said Tuesday he intends to fight Hill's lawsuit. Stark added that he feels he's being judged as guilty before having an opportunity to appeal the USDA's decision or contest the attorney general's challenge.

Despite the allegations, Stark contends no animal has been deliberately mistreated at Wildlife in Need to his best recollection. Stark acknowledged that he occasionally disciplines animals by hitting them.

"I don't live in this fairy tale land where you think you're supposed to give everything a time out, because if you give a lion or tiger or bear a time out, all you're teaching it is that it's in charge," Stark said.

In a news release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, praised Hill’s decision to file the lawsuit. Brittany Peet, PETA Foundation director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement, said it is “one more nail in the coffin” for Wildlife In Need.

West Lafayette
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 76°
Kokomo
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Rensselaer
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Fowler
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Williamsport
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 74°
Crawfordsville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 68°
Frankfort
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 70°
Delphi
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 74°
Monticello
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 74°
Logansport
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 70°
Active Pattern Ahead
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 73287

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15701725
Lake7496275
Elkhart480184
Allen3835163
St. Joseph342381
Hamilton2723104
Vanderburgh192213
Hendricks1871108
Cass17869
Johnson1741118
Porter129439
Clark120247
Tippecanoe118911
Madison94365
LaPorte89430
Howard88465
Kosciusko84712
Bartholomew78047
Marshall77422
Floyd77246
Monroe74630
Delaware71452
Dubois68712
Boone67246
Noble66329
Hancock64738
Vigo61910
Jackson5855
Warrick57930
LaGrange55710
Shelby54627
Grant52630
Dearborn49628
Morgan46734
Clinton4303
Henry37620
Wayne36810
White36110
Montgomery35221
Lawrence34227
Decatur33532
Harrison32723
Putnam2868
Miami2692
Scott26610
Daviess26420
Greene24634
Franklin24114
Jasper2342
DeKalb2304
Jennings22412
Gibson2214
Steuben2073
Ripley1997
Fayette1867
Carroll1852
Perry18412
Starke1777
Posey1700
Orange16924
Wabash1653
Fulton1642
Wells1622
Jefferson1602
Knox1510
Whitley1516
Washington1391
Tipton1379
Spencer1313
Huntington1223
Newton11810
Randolph1184
Clay1165
Sullivan1131
Adams962
Jay910
Owen871
Pulaski791
Rush764
Brown731
Fountain732
Blackford632
Ohio635
Benton610
Pike530
Parke511
Vermillion490
Switzerland460
Crawford440
Martin430
Union390
Warren221
Unassigned0202

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events