Wildlife in Need owner talks about facility safety, standards


by WHAS11


Posted on July 23, 2014 at 6:22 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 24 at 7:16 AM

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (WHAS11) -- A local man who owns dozens of exotic animals is addressing a controversy at his animal center.

 The facility in Charlestown, Indiana has had several problems noted during federal inspections and problems with state permits.

 The I-Team has been getting answers from the owner in an exclusive interview.

 “I do not have a single pet on this property. I raise friends mutual respect between me and them. We have a mutual understanding. I am here to provide for them,” said Wildlife in Need owner Timothy Stark.

 Stark owns and breeds tiger cubs.

 He's been allowing people to see the cubs recently as part of a fundraiser for his animal center on his property.

 “It's true unconditional love even with the dangerous ones. Do you get unconditional love? Yes. It's different than the love you get from people,” said Stark.

 Stark has dozens of exotic animals including tigers and lions.

 “Have you acquired all these animals legally?,” asked WHAS 11’s I-Team reporter Renee Murphy.

 “Every one of them,” said Stark.

 He does have a permit through the United States Department of Agriculture to house the big cats and bears.

 But our investigation has found that there have been several problems listed in these  federal inspections regarding enclosures and facilities.

 “We had a conflict with a new inspector and myself and that inspector butted heads,” said Stark.

 One inspection says two leopards on the property had a metabolic bone disease. The report says the animals were never examined by the attending veterinarian.

 One died and another was euthanized.

 Stark says he didn't know the animals were sick until it was too late.

 Another report says documents from a vet were altered.

 “Who forged the documents?” 

 “There was no forging. It was a misunderstanding,” said Stark.

 “Do you have a safe and clean facility?”

 “Everyone is it all 110% perfect no don’t claim to be. Do we keep up with it yes,” said Stark.

 “What kind of training and certification to you have to run a facility like this?”

 “I’ve got 25 years experience dealing with what I deal with,” said Stark.

 “Does this facility pose any public safety issue?”

 “No, no more than the Louisville Zoo does,” Stark said.

 An inspector in January asked Stark to stop allowing people to see the tiger cubs because they were being scratched and were told to smack the tigers on the nose if they got too rough.

 Stark said he is now showcasing younger cubs that are not dangerous. He added that he’s appealed some of the inspection findings.

 He said he wants his place to one day be recognized as a zoo.