CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (WDRB) -- Tim Stark was consistently raw, short-tempered and profane as he defended his small southern Indiana zoo, Wildlife in Need.
"The one thing you'll learn in life? You never send a f****** bull into the china shop where a bull already god**** lives," he said. "It's just that simple."
Wildlife in Need lets visitors get up close and personal with exotic animals such as bears, tigers and lions. It's come under fire for years because of allegations of abuse.
Now, the federal government has handed Stark a striking blow that could put his zoo's future in jeopardy.
After documenting 120 violations of the Animal Welfare Act, a judge for the the U.S. Department of Agriculture pulled the zoo’s license to exhibit warm-blooded animals, which include the big cats and bears.
"I am not perfect. Was there complications? There was some. A lot of it had to do with p***-poor employees," Stark said in response.
A 183-page report says Stark, over the years, has harassed federal inspectors, failed to provide proper veterinary care to some sick or dying animals, and even beat a young leopard to death with a baseball bat.
"The animal s*** is all bull**** — just like me euthanizing an animal or whatever," Stark responded. "I am required to do that."
He said even though some of the violations are true, his animals love him and don't attack him when he enters their cages. Instead, the animals embrace him, he said.
"Every lousy, stinkin' animal on this property runs to me," Stark said.
He said he'll appeal the USDA's decision and continue to operate the zoo in the meantime.
Meanwhile, Brittany Peet, the director of captive animal law enforcement for the PETA Foundation, offered a different assessment of Wildlife in Need.
"Any claims that Tim Stark makes about caring about animals are completely belied by his actions," she said. "PETA will continue working and fighting until every single animal is out of Wildlife in Need and in reputable facilities getting the care that they desperately need."
In 2018, PETA argued Stark violated the Endangered Species Act after tiger cubs were declawed before tiger baby "playtime" sessions with guests. Stark referred to the nonprofit as "walking human flesh devils” in another profane October 2018 interview with WDRB News.
In the more recent interview Thursday evening, Stark continued attacks against PETA and the USDA.
"Like I told all of them, you're f****** with the wrong god**** person," he said.
Stark said federal investigators haven't inspected his zoo since 2017, so WDRB News pushed for answers and any proof that the animals there aren't suffering as the federal report suggests. Thursday's interview with Stark was conducted outside the zoo's secure gates.
"When is the last time an animal has died here?" WDRB asked Stark.
"Animals die here all the time," he responded. "Hell, I don't know off-hand. I mean, hell, we keep records of everything, but I mean, you know, s*** happens. There's sometimes where just you walk out there and an animal's dead."
Stark said the most recent death happened in the past few months. A red river hog suddenly died, and Stark doesn't know what caused the death. A veterinarian was never called.
"Can you say 100% that your animal husbandry wasn't the cause of the pig's death?" WDRB asked.
"No, I can't guarantee 100% on nothing. There are no guarantees," Stark said.
He continued, "You're talking about an animal, for one. You know, that number two, don't have rights. Animals don't have rights."
Stark said he was headed to a birthday dinner Thursday night, but WDRB asked for a tour of the facility upon his return to examine the current conditions. Stark said he's open to the idea but would check with his board and give WDRB an answer Friday morning.
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