CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (WAVE) - It all went down Friday, as inspectors headed to Charlestown animal sanctuary Wildlife in Need.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill filed suit after former workers there made claims of animal abuse and neglect, leading a judge to send inspectors to the property. Although WAVE 3 News cameras weren’t allowed in Friday, operator Tim Stark on Monday told WAVE 3 News what happened.
Stark said it was rough at the beginning when he and his attorney noticed the group of inspectors included a well-known animal advocate who has done work for PETA, an organization with which Stark has had a rocky history. Diplomacy is not Stark’s thing, he asked,
“Is Tim Stark a good person?” asked Stark, who admitted diplomacy is not his thing. “Damn right he is.”
Then he asked: “Is he a foul mouth person? Damn right he is.”
So, when about 18 people drove onto his Wildlife In Need property Friday, it didn’t start well.
“They would not allow us to have the identifications of anyone who was coming onto the property," Stark said, adding that he and his attorney were fine with inspectors from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office and the veterinarians and staff from the Indianapolis Zoo all being there. But he said he got mad after spotting animal behaviorist Jay Pratte, who has consulted for PETA.
Twenty minutes after a heated discussion at the gate, Stark said, “That ended and after that, they started looking at everything, every animal, every building, every containment trailer of any kind.”
Of the 175 animals on property, Stark said veterinarians had only a question about one of his big cat hybrids.
“He’s got a weird gait to him on his rear end and he’s had it ever since I got him when he was a baby and it don’t affect him," Stark said. "He’ll still jump and to a normal person you wouldn’t ever notice it.”
Stark showed WAVE 3 News how he got into a cage for inspectors to show them how the animals react to him. Stark said other questions focused on his smaller cages for some big cats, but he said they are within USDA standards.
Stark also said former employees and volunteers who complained about him are disgruntled, adding that inspectors spoke with current staffers and volunteers on the property. He also said they went inside his home.
Because the inspection was completed Friday, Wildlife in Need was open over the weekend. Stark said the inspection lasted five hours, was fair and thorough.
“I’m curious to see what their actual results will be of this inspection," Stark said. There’s no date for when that will be.