Charlestown zoo barred from taking in new animals

An embattled wildlife center in southern Indiana that’s being sued by the state and by an animal welfare group for allegedly abusing big cats and other exotic animals cannot take in new animals while that lawsuit is pending, a judge has ruled.

The temporary restraining order approved Tuesday was sought by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office against Wildlife in Need and its operator, Timothy Stark, the News and Tribune of Jeffersonville reported.

Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer’s order states that “immediate and irreparable injury will occur to animals” if Stark or the wildlife center take in additional animals.

Indiana’s attorney general’s office sued the wildlife center in February, accusing it of abusing and neglecting animals and seeking to have all of the animals on the Clark County property moved to animal sanctuaries.

That lawsuit was filed after the U.S. Department of Agriculture revoked the center’s Animal Welfare Act license and ordered it to pay $340,000 in fines, including $40,000 that must be paid directly by Stark, who has appealed that decision. Stark and Wildlife in Need also have faced litigation from the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In March, Dreyer approved a preliminary injunction that prevents Stark from moving any animals during the lawsuit and to report all births or deaths of animals at the center.

Indiana’s motion seeking the temporary restraining order states that Stark violated the preliminary injunction by failing to report the May 10 death of a young lioness. Court records show Stark said the lioness died because he was unable to get her veterinary care.

The state’s motion also said Stark has filed a lawsuit attempting to get 46 animals, including four monkeys, a grizzly bear and python, moved from an Oklahoma zoo to southern Indiana.

The wildlife center is located in the Ohio River city of Charlestown, about 20 miles northeast of Louisville, Kentucky.

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