The feud between the state of Indiana and the owner of a rogue Charlestown zoo is heating up, with the state now seeking default judgment and the court ordering the owner to reveal the locations of animals illegally removed from the Charlestown property. The state says the zoo owner responded with social media posts inciting violence and using racist slurs.
Tim Stark of Wildlife in Need and Wildlife in Deed Inc. in Charlestown has until 4 p.m. Tuesday to reveal to authorities the locations of animals valued at nearly $120,000 he allegedly removed from the Wildlife in Need, or WIN, zoo. Already, animals valued at $50,000 were found in an unventilated box truck in outdoor temperatures exceeding 80 degrees.
The animals — species from birds to wolves to cougars, to name a few — are legally under the receivership of the Indianapolis Zoological Society. Per an order from Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer, the Indianapolis Zoo must remove all animals from the WIN property by Friday, pending final judgment in a lawsuit seeking to shut down WIN’s operations.
But a Monday motion filed by the office of Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill alleged that Stark had removed $169,5000 worth of animals — including those recovered from the truck valued at $50,000 — from his property in direct defiance of Dreyer’s order. Also on Friday, the state filed a contempt motion alleging Stark had blocked the removal team’s entrance onto his property for roughly two hours.
The drama continued Sunday, when Stark took to Facebook to “incite violence” against the members of the removal team. According to the state, Stark in his video called on supporters to “stand in front of my gate, don’t let them out. … Stand your f—ing ground g-d-mnit. … Everybody’s scared. Nobody wants to get into it because they’re afraid they might get arrested or whatever. For what? Standing your f—ing ground? All of these worthless n—–s out there f—ing protesting, rioting right now, they’re not getting arrested.”
He continued, “If you’ve got time to sit here f—in’ watching me rant and rave, you’re a– shoulda already been out there on my property throwing rocks at them motherf—ers, all kinds of s—. That’s where you should be.”
It was also on Sunday that members of the removal team found the $50,000 worth of animals — including a sloth, De Brazza’s monkeys, booted macaques and white faced capuchins — in a crate truck about 300 feet from the WIN property. The temperature was 83 degrees and the truck did not have ventilation or water for the animals, according to the state.
An Indianapolis veterinarian gave the animals “prompt treatment” after their discovery, Hill said in a news release.
At an earlier teleconference on Friday, the state wrote, Stark had “screamed” at Dreyer, yelling “F— this!” Dreyer held another hearing Monday afternoon, according to Hill.
“The only way to prevent additional animals being removed by Stark prior to the conclusion of the removal process, to secure the return of the missing animals, and to ensure the safety of those participating in the animal removal is for Stark to be remanded into the custody of the Marion County Sheriff for the duration of the removal process and until he returns all of the missing animals,” Hill’s office wrote in the Monday motion. “… The State has a real concern that animals will continue to be removed from WIN unless and until he is physically precluded from doing so.”
The state is also seeking a holding of indirect contempt against Stark and default judgment in the state’s favor.
Online court records did not show any response from Stark at IL deadline on Tuesday.
The premise of the state’s lawsuit are allegations of animal abuse and neglect against WIN, Stark and Melisa Lane, another of the zoo’s officers. The Charlestown zoo has already lost its federal exhibitor’s license and has faced repeated defeats in federal court.
Hill reiterated his commitment to the state lawsuit following the filing of Monday’s emergency show-cause motion.
“Our presence at WIN’s properties is to ensure that the court’s orders are carried out,” the AG said in a news release. “The order is to preserve the assets of a nonprofit that are at risk, and in this case those assets are the animals.
“The removal of the animals ensures their preservation and welfare,” he continued. “Our office is moving as quickly as we can to get this case to trial.”
The state court case is State of Indiana v. Wildlife in Need and Wildlife in Deed, Inc., Timothy Stark, and Melisa Lane, 49D10-2002-PL-006192.