Judge issues preliminary injunction against Charlestown exotic animal refuge
A Charlestown wildlife refuge that houses big cats has been stopped in its tracks after an animal rights group filed a lawsuit.
CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (WDRB) -- A judge ruled in favor of animal rights group PETA after the group filed a preliminary injunction against Wildlife in Need, Inc. in September claiming the Charlestown refuge goes against the Endangered Species Act.
The documents say the refuge declaws big cats, a procedure that “irreparably injures big cats by amputating their toes at the last joint – thus wounding, harming, and harassing the protected animals.”
“I don’t give a s*** what PETA says. I don’t care!” said Wildlife in Need, Inc. Founder Tim Stark. “They are not a governing body. They are not a governing agency in any way, shape or form. What they are … is that.”
Stark said it is the same procedure vets use on house cats.
The injunction also states the refuge cannot use any big cat cubs under 18 months old in public encounters or from prematurely separating big cat cubs from their mothers “without medical necessity.”
The “Tiger Baby Playtime” the refuge held with visitors was one of the biggest money makers for the refuge. Stark said the lions and tigers are born in captivity, and that’s the only life they know, separating them will not have any psychological impact on them.
“These animals are going to remain in captivity their entire life," Stark said. "There is no way you can take a lion or tiger and go release it into that so-called 'wild.' That ain’t the way it works."
PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet said the organization will be watching the refuge even more closely following the judge’s ruling.
“We are asking the court to appoint a special guardian to determine the best placement for these animals and that these animals be removed from the custody of Wildlife in Need,” Peet said.
More than 280 exotic animals live on the eight-acre property, including lions, tigers, mountain lions, hyenas and wolves.
Stark said if he was in violation of an USDA rules or regulations, they wouldn’t have renewed his license four months ago.
“Just because PETA says one side, why isn’t my side just as legit?," he said. "They are saying this and that and it isn’t fair. I refuse to be guilty until proven innocent. That is not the way the Constitution of the United States works. That is not right.”
PETA says the preliminary injunction will last as long as the case remains in the courts.
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.