CHARLESTOWN, Ind. — Tim Stark, the former Wildlife in Need owner permanently forbidden from owning and exhibiting any exotic or native animals, has been ordered to pay nearly $734,000 to PETA.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern Indiana District ordered Stark and Wildlife in Need to pay $733,997.70 to PETA in attorneys' fees and expenses related to the group's lawsuit against Stark.
PETA won its lawsuit against Stark and his ex-wife in August 2020 when the court filed a permanent injunction barring Stark from possessing the tigers, lions and tiger/lion hybrids without court approval and separating cubs from their mothers, declawing them or allowing public encounters.
The nonprofit said it is already owed $19,234.40 in unpaid fee awards from Stark and Wildlife in Need, totaling $753,323.10.
"For years, Tim Stark cruelly tore big-cat cubs away from their mothers, removed their claws, and used them as photo props to make a buck, but now the long arm of the law has caught up with him," said Asher Smith, PETA Foundation's director of litigation. "PETA looks forward to collecting its due and warns other sleazy roadside zoos that they could be next."
Following the decision, 25 big cats were transferred from Stark and his former business partner Jeff Lowe to accredited sanctuaries.
In April, an Indiana judge made a final ruling in the state's case against Stark, finding that Stark used funds from Wildlife in Need for his own personal use.
Stark was been permanently forbidden from owning and exhibiting any exotic or native animals and required to return all funds and assets to Wildlife in Need. All of the non-big cat animals were transferred from the facility to the Indianapolis Zoo.
A year ago, Stark was stripped of his USDA license in June after agency officials said he violated the Animal Welfare Act more than 100 times.