A judge has granted an injunction against owners of an Indiana wildlife center that prevents them from using tiger cubs for public encounters.
The injunction filed Monday temporarily bans Wildlife in Need owners Tim and Melisa Stark from hosting events where visitors can interact with tiger cubs and have their picture taken.
The ruling also bans the Starks from declawing its big cats and orders them to stop separating cubs from their mothers unless medically necessary.
The ruling follows a lawsuit filed last year by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. It alleges the operators have repeatedly violated federal law that protects endangered species.
But Stark says the recent injunction is hurting his business.
“It has ruined my life … It stresses you so bad you can’t sleep,” Stark says. “I live for these animals. I donate my time – 24/7, 365 days a year – to this since 1997. I don’t receive a paycheck in any shape or form.”
Stark says he hasn’t violated the Animal Welfare Act or the Animal Welfare Regulations set by the USDA. He says the reports of animal mistreatment are falsified and that he has video footage to prove it.
“What [PETA does] is drain their opponent of all their funds, of all their stuff. They get these injunctions against people and it’s – you know right now if I can’t do my events that’s our only means of support,” Stark says.
The refuge has been at the center of controversy the last few years. The Courier-Journal reports a fire in 2016 killed at least 41 animals. USDA officials have cited Stark for using riding crops on tiger cubs, and last year investigated allegations of abuse after a video of Stark interacting with a bear cub was posted to social media.
Tim Stark says he plans to contest the ruling.
Miranda Fulmore and Becca Costello contributed to this report.
Read the complete injunction below: