LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The old saying goes, “perception is reality.”
Saturday is a step toward changing that perception for Tim Stark, the owner of Wildlife in Need.
Stark will open his zoo for Father’s Day weekend. He said guests will get a free behind-the-scenes tour of his zoo and most of the 170 animals he owns.
“I want to show people that I’m true, that I’m real, that I don’t have nothing to hide,” Stark said.
Stark and his zoo have come under fire for years, as agencies like PETA have accused him of abusing his animals. In March, inspectors from the Indianapolis Zoo and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office noticed “numerous serious deficiencies putting animals at Wildlife in Need at serious risk of injury, illness and/or death.” In May, a young lioness died at the zoo. In June, Stark’s USDA animal exhibitor license was revoked.
On Monday, Stark’s legal battles continued. Attorney General Curtis Hill filed a temporary restraining order against Stark, preventing him from transporting additional animals to Indiana. The documents state Stark owns 41 animals that are currently in Oklahoma, in the possession of controversial zookeeper Jeff Lowe, who also appeared in Netflix’s documentary “Tiger King.”
The documents state bringing those animals back to Wildlife in Need would cause “immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage.”
“My animals have never seen irreparable harm,” Stark said. They make those terms up.”
Stark also used Thursday to respond to March’s inspection. Stark says that the team had 16 hours to look through his property, and only used four and a half.
“You were only here a fourth of the time you were allotted and now you want to say you didn’t have enough time allotted,” Stark said. “That really don’t [sic] make no sense. That shows stupidity in the first degree.”
Stark told WAVE 3 News he’s able to reopen Wildlife in Need, even though his exhibitor’s license was revoked because guests would be allowed in for free.
He also maintains he has nothing to hide at his zoo, and he’s learned his lesson over the years.
“I know now that these animals need bigger enclosures, better enclosures,” stark said. “That’s where I should’ve been putting my money to, not buying more animals. So I lived and learned. So that’s what life is all about. So, any of these people out there who think I’m an animal abuser, all of these whistleblowers, everything that they have stated is 100 percent false.”
“If I had done any of this illegal crap that they say I had done, why am I standing here doing this interview today,” Stark asked.
Stark told WAVE 3 News Wildlife in Need will open at 11 a.m. Monday. his next court hearing is scheduled for Friday, June 26.