Target: Tom Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Goal: Shut down allegedly abusive wildlife refuge and find the animals homes in accredited sanctuaries.
Wildlife in Need appears to be a cruel and abusive wildlife refuge. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allegedly observed sick animals being denied adequate veterinary care, animal enclosures in disrepair, animals unable to access food and water, and enclosures littered with bones and feces.
The refuge, located in Southern Indiana, runs Tiger Baby Playtime and charges $25 for 30 minutes of playtime with tiger cubs. Unrestrained cubs are released into an open play area. They jump through the crowd, scratching and biting at visitors. They are reportedly reprimanded with the physical abuse of severe swats to the nose with a whip, causing the cubs extreme discomfort. The cubs are exhibited several times a day which causes stress and illness for the animals. The owner, Tim Stark, has allegedly been video taped holding a struggling tiger cub by its nape and swatting the cub forcibly on its nose.
Tiger cubs are not the only animals being abused at the refuge. Stark has also allegedly admitted to multiple animal deaths at the refuge that could have been avoided. A fox and a Great Dane reportedly appeared sick and did not receive adequate veterinary care. Enclosures for dogs, lemurs, and tigers are reportedly inadequate and a danger to the animals. In addition to unclear records as to the disposition of many animals, bears and lemurs have reportedly died from neglect and disregard for minimum standards of care protocols as set out by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
During the past eight inspections, Stark has been cited with 22 violations by the USDA – 10 of these violations were repeat infractions. Officials have cited Stark four times since 2012 for not having enclosures tall enough to properly contain the animals. In general, the inspections reportedly revealed potentially deadly situations for visitors, unsanitary conditions for the animals, and repeat violations from previous inspections. Despite these violations and repeated infractions, Wildlife in Need remains in business. The USDA inspector merely noted that animals could be injured or harmed “when interaction with the public is free and uncontrolled.”
Ensuring that wildlife are provided with care is the responsibility of the USDA under the AWA. The AWA provides the minimum standards of care and treatment for animals that are bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. By signing this petition, you will urge USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to enforce the AWA and shut down Wildlife in Need. They have received and ignored citations from the USDA. Their alleged lack of care and abuse are endangering every animal located at this so-called wildlife refuge. These animals deserve to be protected under the AWA and sent to accredited sanctuaries where they will no longer be exploited. Please save the lives of these captive and abused animals.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
Wildlife in Need Animal Refuge allegedly provides a cruel and inhumane environment for their animals and needs to be shut down. They have received numerous citations and repeat violations, yet they continue their business as usual in detriment to the welfare of animals under their care. They need to be shut down.
Wildlife in Need holds a USDA permit and must be held accountable to the animals under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The animals are reportedly disciplined with riding crops and forced to interact numerous times daily with the public. When they do get to rest, it is allegedly in feces-covered pens, littered with bones.
Animals deserve our protection and care. We, the undersigned, urge you to enforce the Animal Welfare Act and ensure that Wildlife in Need is shut down and their animals are sent to accredited sanctuaries where they can live out their lives free from exploitation, torture, and preventable death. Please stop the abuse and save these animals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Sarah Cheriton-Jones