Wildlife in Need, a roadsidezoo in Charlestown, Indiana, cites itself as"a nonprofit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of native species.”However, a video released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) exposed one of the 'Tiger Baby Playtime' sessions from the center and have accused Tim Stark, founder of Wildlife in Need, of animal cruelty.
The organization subsequently filed an official complaint against the 'zoo' citing “the abusive handling of a 14-week-old bear cub in violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)The video shows Stark handling a young Kodiak bear named Gizzy in front of a live audience. The animal is visibly distressed in the video, and Jenni James from PETA explains that according to wildlife experts, “she’s urinating on herself out of sheer terror.”
This is not the first time that the ethics of Wildlife in Need have been called into question. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been conducting an ongoing investigation since 2013, and according to their database, the zoo has been inspected a total of twelve times since the start of the inquiry.A report from September 13, 2015, describes how Stark“persistently teased the cubs to make them 'attack' for good photo opportunities,” to which James responds:
Bears and big cat cubs are not play things and they are not entertainment. All of these animals should be released to reputable sanctuaries that can give them the respectful care that they deserve.
Stark resolutely denies these allegations, claiming that he and the bear have a 'special relationship,' and that his top priority is the wellbeing of the animals in his care. He alleges that the behavior of the bear in the video is completely normal and that she is simply having a 'temper tantrum.'However, animal activists are not satisfied with this explanation and PETA is campaigning for the immediate closure of the roadside zoo, along with the confiscation of the animals in Stark's care. However, Wildlife in Need is currently still in possession of their exotic animals license.
To help PETA in this investigation and their work to protect animals, you can make a donation here. You can also boycott roadsidezoosand any facilities that do not give animals the space andcare that they need.Millions of animals are still stuck in cages, enclosures or buildings every day. Tourists and visitors need to be informed of the harm inflicted upon these animals, physically and emotionally, from being entrapped and forced to perform.[caption id="attachment_21707" align="alignnone" width="831"]
A tiger cub during 'Tiger Baby Playtime' at Wildlife in Need Source: Youtube/Ramie Hutchison[/caption]Animals were made to roam free in their natural habitat, and they are not there for humans to take pictures with.Watch the shocking video of Gizzy below:[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJjZnB-8YSY[/embed]
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