CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (WAVE) - The founder of the now-closed Wildlife in Need animal sanctuary in Charlestown, Ind., appeared virtually in Clark County court on Thursday.
Tim Stark pleaded not guilty to charges of battery and intimidation of a law enforcement officer after officials accused him of assaulting an Indiana Deputy Attorney General during an inspection of his roadside zoo in March.
Stark was arrested in upstate New York on a felony warrant out of Clark County this month and was recently extradited back to Indiana.
On Thursday, a Clark Circuit Court judge granted him a $5,000 full cash bond and ordered mandatory monthly check-ins with the pretrial service department because he said he believed Stark is a flight risk.
Stark’s attorney, David Mosley, described the charges as “ridiculous” and said he had proof the Deputy Attorney General whom Stark is accused of assaulting poked Stark first.
“Why are we here?” Mosley asked the court. “I think it’s showbiz.”
The judge told Stark he set his bond lower than the prosecution’s $100,000 recommendation because he has been an active member of the community and did not believe he was a danger to society.
The judge added that at some point Stark will have to be transported to Indianapolis because of a warrant in Marion County.
As for Stark’s animals from Wildlife in Need, WAVE 3 News learned all 22 big cats were transported to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado and the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Founder and President Tanya Smith said it rescued eight of Stark’s older cats because her facility was closer to Indiana. Smith told WAVE 3 News that PETA selected the Arkansas wildlife rescue to care for the eight cats.
Smith said all of the cats were infected with worms and parasites, but after veterinary care, they are doing much better.
“I was just out there looking at every one of them and they’re doing great,” Smith said. “Avalanche and Hurricane were kind of scared; they’re two tigers we brought in at first but they’ve come around. They’re chuffing at our team, and they’re doing everything they should be doing as big cats.”
During the rescue, the staff at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge were particularly concerned with the male lion, Chief, who Smith said was not responding well. Smith told WAVE 3 News she was thankful that after giving Chief subcutaneous fluids, they did not have to sedate him during the rescue.
“Rescues are always difficult because we never know what we’re getting ourselves into when we go on a property we’re not familiar with," she said. "When we saw Chief there and he was in such poor condition, thin and just looked like he hadn’t gotten the right care, it’s difficult.”
Smith said all the cats are doing well. To learn more about the rescue or how you can help the animals, click here.
Twelve monkeys from Wildlife in Need were transported to Primarily Primates in Texas, according to its Facebook page.
WAVE 3 News reached out to the Indianapolis Zoo to inquire where the remaining animals were sent, but an official said they were barred from speaking about the animals and their whereabouts under a court order.
Stark’s next Clark County court appearance has been set for Nov. 19.
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