(CHARLESTOWN) – The state of Indiana filed a temporary restraining order against Wildlife in Need on Friday that will keep all staff, visitors and volunteers out of cages that house the lions and tigers and other big cats.
“Unless the big cats are locked in an enclosure separate from the enclosure being entered and in a manner preventing the cats from coming into physical contact with any person in the enclosure being entered,” the order reads.
The facility was inspected in March after Attorney General Curtis Hill filed an injunction on Feb. 11 that would allow the state to remove the animals and place them in “court-approved animal sanctuaries” over alleged animal abuse.
Officials claim Zoo owner Tim Stark has violated more than 120 violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Records go back 10 years with complaints.
Stark says his nonprofit rescues and rehabilitates animals and has a mix of exotic species including lions, tigers, bears, lemurs, sloths and prairie dogs.
The preliminary injunction allows the state to inspect the facility and its animals through photos and videos. The state’s veterinarians can also treat any animals found to be in distress or in need of medical attention.
The owners can’t move animals or corporate assets without approval, and they must continue caring for the animals and providing the state with records and information regarding the animals’ whereabouts. They also must alert the court to any births, deaths or new acquisitions.
The lawsuit was filed in February 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. He has appealed that decision.