Tim Stark

A judge has approved a temporary restraining order preventing Tim Stark (above), operator of a roadside zoo in Charlestown, from taking in new animals during a pending lawsuit.

INDIANAPOLIS — A Marion County judge has issued a temporary restraining order related to some operations of Charlestown roadside zoo Wildlife in Need and its owner Tim Stark.

The order, filed March 27, states that Stark shall not allow employees, staff, volunteers or any member of the general public to enter any cages of the big cats housed at the property, after an inspection March 5 and 6 found Stark to be in violation of safety procedures. Veterinarians are exempt from the ruling.

On March 1, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill filed a lawsuit seeking to close the Charlestown business and have the animals relocated to court-approved animal sanctuaries. He filed a preliminary injunction the same day, requesting immediate inspection by the state of the premises, to ensure safety of the animals and prevent Stark from relocating any animals or corporate assets.

That injunction was approved at the start of March, with the inspection taking place several days later. The state filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on March 13, based in part on what were said to be some of the findings.

According to the motion, inspectors observed that fully grown lions, tigers and hybrids were kept in cages with unsecured egress doors, those which could allow an animal to escape if not properly secured when a human enters the cage.

Further, the complaint states that Stark said he allows volunteers and staff to enter the cages with non-sedated and unrestrained big cats, and that his “safety protocol is to shoot a cat in case of attack,” it reads.

“...Stark’s practice demonstrated the significant risk to [Wildlife in Need] staff and the public posed by the inadequately secured enclosures.”

The state’s motion further stipulates that it anticipates finding “additional serious deficiencies” in the business’ treatment, housing and handling practices, but that “the state believes the conditions and practices identified in this motion require immediate injunctive relief to ensure the health and safety of both [Wildlife in Need’s] animals and staff, as well as the public.”

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