From its name, Wildlife in Need sounds like a nice place for animals, but it turns out that—as many other cruel tourist traps do—owner Tim Stark used the name as a tactic to deceive unwitting travelers. Wildlife in Need is nothing but a horrid roadside zoo that uses animals for profit. PETA is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate Stark for apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act—after he was caught on video forcefully handling a bear cub during his regular “Tiger Baby Playtime” event—and to confiscate the bear.
In the video, the 14-week-old cub—who, in the wild, would be with her mother for the first two years—can be seen screaming in distress with her ears pulled back, urinating out of fear, and even biting Stark’s hand. At one point, Stark—who’s wearing thick black gloves—dangles her by her mouth, putting her at risk for damaged teeth and back and neck muscles.
“Tim Stark terrorized this baby bear in front of a boisterous crowd until he ignited her fight response,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA stands ready to help authorities find a reputable sanctuary for this traumatized cub where she could receive the care that she desperately needs.”
Watch the video:
This isn’t the first time that Stark has put animals in harm’s way. He pleaded guilty to trafficking an endangered ocelot in 2008, and USDA records show that he’s repeatedly failed to document the transfers of many protected animals to and from his facility.
In 2013, he claimed that two baby leopards were suffering from metabolic bone disease, despite admitting to never having consulted with a veterinarian. Within weeks, one leopard was found dead, and Stark claimed to have beaten the other to death with a baseball bat after he found the animal gasping for air. Stark was also caught on video telling visitors to smack tigers on the nose if they got too “rowdy” during “Tiger Baby Playtime.”
What you can do:
Never visit any roadside zoos or animal attractions. If you’re planning a road trip with your family or friends, don’t be swayed by places that tack the word “sanctuary” or “rescue” onto their names. Ignore the billboards, and don’t spend any of your money or vacation time at places where animals have to suffer long after you’re back home.