As an IU student and animal lover, I was encouraged to see the Indiana Daily Student’s coverage of Wildlife in Need’s Tim Stark being barred from owning and exhibiting exotic and native animals. For too long, Stark exploited the animals he kept at Wildlife in Need, especially the big cat and bear cubs featured in “Baby Tiger Playtime.
There is no safe or humane way to allow for the public to handle big cats or bears of any age. Public contact with dangerous wild animals is a poorly regulated activity and the United States Department of Agriculture’s already weak enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act has decreased dramatically in recent years.
Several states including Kansas, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, Maine and Virginia have state laws that prohibit public contact with bears and/or big cats. Indiana does not. Indiana considered a bill this legislative session called the Cub Protection Act that would have prohibited public contact with big cats and bears, but unfortunately it did not pass.
I urge our state elected officials to prioritize public safety, animal welfare and conservation efforts by passing the Cub Protection Act in 2022. As Indiana residents who want the best for all animals, we should rally support for this bill and bring it to the attention of our representatives and senators.