While Joe Exotic’s retrial is happening today, Friday January 28th, in Oklahoma City, which I’ll be attending and reporting on, the latest Season 2 actually ended with the sad images and video clips of wildlife veteran and true tiger king, Tim Stark, from Indiana. That episode highlighted the seizure of his personal property and beloved animals after years of harassment by the government and animal rights groups.
While cancel culture today has easily vilified and dismissed him as an angry redneck, those with any critical thinking will instantly be alarmed more by the government overreach than his outbursts. Priorities, please?
Tim Stark, The True Tiger King or Animal Whisperer?
Beyond the obvious and glaring reality seen vividly in Season 2 Episode 5, anyone with any empathy also would not take joy in the downfall of a man who had everything taken away from them. Anyone with empathy would see the happy children from his Tiger Cub shows and should realize the animals were also well adjusted and happy and maybe pause before judgment. And families from all over the world who came to see them no longer have this blessing. The world is a quieter and sadder place without Tim’s shows.
Tim Stark has a special and unique skill with animals and created a beautiful show that drew in people as far away as Europe to enjoy close and safe interaction with visitors for an affordable price. One of the most iconic images during Tiger King was the clip of him driving with a monkey on his lap. That monkey I later learned was Tatiana. Tim broke down several times when her name was mentioned, a symbol of the pain he went through from the failed partnership with Jeff Lowe, his marriage ending at the time and the continued harassment from Indiana state and PETA.
But now after the events in Tiger King, one can now see how a beautiful thing can get wildly distorted. Tim was the one character from Tiger King I wanted to meet due to the sad circumstances and my admiration for his Tiger Cub show. The disconnect was too big between who he was in the past and who he is today. But most importantly when I saw his suicide attempt, I knew this guy was crying for help and wanted to be heard.
Contacting Tim, Journeying With Him & Hearing His Stories
I reached out to Tim and we chatted on the phone. I was absolutely shocked that I was the first person from the media to contact him. He was shocked too especially after Tiger King 2 was released and he was featured on the finale episode. On my own dime, I flew out to see him to give him some solidarity after I saw his attempted suicide video. I could empathize with how bad he must have felt with everything taken away from him.
I was able to catch up with Tim as he was making a special trip to see the animals that were taken from him, in several different states where they have been “rehabilitated”. I spent many days with Tim, hearing his stories about saving wild animals and nursing them back to health as a child, his many years, about 15 years as a nonprofit making no real profit but focused on the mission, his stint as Indiana state’s subject matter expert on exotic animals and birds, his licenses and then the eventual bullying he experienced from animal rights groups who are doing anything but take care of the animals they purport to care about.
A personal story of survival and resilience but also one with numerous insights into the corruption of governments at multiple levels and special interest groups claiming to help animals but are doing the opposite, this will undoubtedly be a book I am writing.
There are so many issues hard for me to capture in one single article. From an analysis of political laws to what it means to do what you love and succeed to being a faithful husband and true love post divorce to what animal rights truly means to the failure of business partnerships (but the early signs he already saw with Jeff Lowe) to the boundaries between regulation, which Tim agrees with, to outright trespassing and bullying to dealing with corrupt politicians of both parties to auditing PETA, there is no shortage of wisdom and info I got from Tim. By far, not a perfect one, he is honest and surprisingly humble.
What struck me when I saw Tim was the love for his two dogs and kitten. I also got to interact with some of his exotic animals that he previously owned. The bond he has with the animals is basically at a level most humans will never attain. But people have said the same about my own animals so it was easy for me to understand some of the secret sauces to Tim’s unique ability and skill. It takes a deep amount of true empathy for someone to be this great with animals.
Talking with Tim and interacting with him, I met a generous man who is real, talks straight but lives and loves deeply. He is also a man deeply hurt by a society that is moving increasingly towards the need to cancel and hurt someone who now fits an archetype that is easy to vilify. Tim doesn’t help that cause by his foul mouthed demeanor but should he? Or should he be defiant and say “enough is enough”?
I don’t blame him for choosing the latter. In fact we got into some great conversations about race and racism. You will be surprised because they are fresh perspectives and look nothing like the shallow epithets out there that foster more division especially in the mainstream media. There is more complexity to a human being than boxing him into a stereotype.
Tim Goes On Facebook Live - Then The Mob Attacks, Hoping To Snitch
Interestingly, Tim went on Facebook live during my visit with him and within 15 minutes, a video he put up was downloaded by some activist “animals right” group going after him. Everything Tim did was legit. It was his exotic animal but now owned by someone else. But the way the mob reacted was so shocking. It’s like Nazi Germany. The need to snitch and hurt a man who was already down and out with nothing is not human.
Even Carole Baskin decided to get involved, as she commented on the video asking who I was? Carole, can you mind your own business for once and let the others tell their story or let certain media cover the ones who have been silenced and vilified by you? The bigger question is why do you have so much time to be stalking Tim Stark when you have enough animals that need to be taken care of, and your own operation to worry about? Why dedicate so much energy to tearing others down? How miserable are you? Being a snitch is one of the ugliest things you can be in life.
I guess that’s the red and blue divide again in 2022. Red America wants to be left alone. Blue America feels the need to meddle in everyone’s business and hurt others. Thank God Tiger King became a hit and people saw through the series, the nefariousness and evil of what those in the exotic animal world are doing in the name of good, stripping away people’s livelihood like Joe Exotic’s mall tours or Tim Stark’s tiger cub show or Doc Antle’s operation in South Carolina. Are they just bothered by competition? And using government to stifle their competition? That’s what it’s looking like for many watching the series.
This woman even has a whiteboard of targets. Once again what is the net result? Children and adults don’t get to see these wild animals do a show, to become curious about them and the different breeds, to experience the joy in person and create memories for life. I think that’s robbing the public of a greater good. In the end, don’t the net results of your actions actually hurt the industry?
Those who are working hard like Joe, Tim and Antle are vilified. One personality flaw is used to create false narratives and in the end the unthinkable is justified: shutting down their hard work and business they built for years, taking everything away from them or in tone most extreme case with Joe Exotic, putting them in prison. And using government as the bully pulpit. That is so wrong, on so many levels.
Substance Over Style, Please
Some people, and I would argue, the majority of people, in extreme circumstances when pushed enough will say harsh words. Tim’s biggest sin is that. But he’s innocent in all other accounts. This is why he is a free man. I won’t justify some of his name calling but I can see beyond that and prioritize accordingly. Ever seen a fight between two lovers who love each other so much but will say the most hurtful things? Not trying to justify bad words, but the truth cannot be cancelled just because you don’t like the messenger. Sometimes one partner in the fight will yell the truth so loud because the other one doesn’t want to hear it. That’s Tim right now. Cut him some slack.
Tim’s truth is one that needs to be heard. Please remember the fact that this man does not sit in jail. He is also not a polygamist like the other Tiger King wildlife operators. He ran Wildlife In Need with his wife for 25 years as a faithful husband who loved his animals. He was a subject matter expert at one point, for many years a person the state of Indiana leaned on.
These days, the truth is being suppressed as the media censors those who spread it and vilify them so people don’t even think twice about looking at the source. For years I thought about spaying and neutering as the only way. But as Tim mentions, that’s the worst thing for endangered species. You want them to breed! Wow, isn’t the truth so simple? Same with what’s going on with COVID and people finding holistic solutions that work. Why is that being suppressed? Don’t we want solutions? If you like solutions you’ll like my many conversations with Tim.
Today he is left with nothing except his resolve to tell the truth. All I ask is you kindly open up your hearts and critically think about the circumstances of Tiger King from a human and common sense perspective.
But the latest update is he’s doing well and he’s happy to have seen many of his beloved animals and begins the work of rebuilding for the next chapter of his life. If you believe in compassion, love and forgiveness, I challenge you to afford Tim that blessing. I see a man wronged and I’m determined to tell his full story. Thanks for opening up your hearts and minds to Tim, myself and the unfiltered truth in this article and more that’s coming.
Marc Ang (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a community organizer in Southern California and the founder of Asian Industry B2B. He is also an animal rights activist who believes in looking at the lifespan of an animal and the big picture to craft practical legislation that respects the bond of an animal and its owner. Marc’s book “Minority Retort” will be released in early 2022