Judge imposes restraining order on Wildlife in Need

Judge imposes restraining order on Wildlife in Need
The Indiana attorney general alleges in a lawsuit that the Wildlife in Need organization has "a history of abusing animals, neglecting to provide basic necessities to animals, and forcing animals to live in deplorable conditions.” (Source: Facebook / Wildlife in Need)

By APRILE RICKERT | News and Tribune

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (WAVE) - A judge has approved a temporary restraining order preventing operators of a roadside zoo in Charlestown from taking in new animals during a pending lawsuit.

In February, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill brought a civil lawsuit against Charlestown’s Wildlife in Need and operator Timothy Stark, stating that the business has a history of abusing and neglecting animals. The attorney general seeks to have all of the animals that are on the property removed and placed in safe animal sanctuaries, court records show.

The judge ordered a preliminary injunction March 2, which prevents Stark from moving any animals during the lawsuit. He must also report all births or deaths of Wildlife in Need animals. A few days later on March 6, inspectors visited the property to document the animals and living conditions.

“The state’s inspection team noted numerous serious deficiencies putting animals at risk of illness, injury and/or death,” court records show.

An emergency motion filed by the state June 12 seeking the temporary restraining order states that Stark violated the preliminary injunction when he failed to report the May 10 death of a young lioness. It also states that he has filed a lawsuit attempting to get 46 animals he has at a zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma back to Southern Indiana — including four monkeys, a Grizzly bear, a Macaw and a Python.

Court records show Stark said the lioness died because he was unable to get her veterinary care. The state cited in its motion that a recent finalization to the removal of Wildlife in Need’s license from the USDA will mean even less revenue and less ability to pay for veterinary care.

“The court finds that “immediate and irreparable injury will occur to animals if Timothy Stark and/or Wildlife in Need and Wildlife in Deed, Inc. take in additional animals.” according to the June 16 ruling.