Tiger King Season 2: Who Is Tim Stark?
You wouldn’t want anyone in Tiger King looking after your pets, but even among such bizarre company, Tim Stark stands out as being perhaps the most detestable. He’s yet another owner of an exotic animal “sanctuary” who has made a name and a living on animals clearly being exploited for profit, but between his constant claims of army training, his insane social media rants complete with a plastic prop grenade, and his deeply cruel business dealings, who is Tim Stark, really?
Wildlife in Need was Stark’s so-called non-profit, a shady business that’s claim to fame was Baby Tiger Playtime, a very hands-on public show that consisted, as far as I can tell, of Stark deliberately antagonizing dangerous animals and then releasing them into crowds of people. When he’s initially introduced late in the second season, it isn’t immediately clear why any of this is relevant. But after Joe Exotic is shipped to state prison, Stark teams up with Jeff Lowe to jointly turn GW Zoo into a thriving mega-zoo in a 50/50 arrangement that Stark claims was anything but.
It’s easy to imagine Jeff sitting around doing nothing while someone else fronted the bills and did all the work, but it’s equally easy to imagine some truth in Jeff’s counterclaims that their business deal fell apart because Stark brought a trailer full of dead animals to the zoo after stopping for a booty call in St. Louis and leaving the passengers without air conditioning for the night.
Naturally, Stark’s cavalier attitude resulted in federal authorities raiding Wildlife in Need and seizing his animals, although it takes a while to get to that point. Stark constantly maintains that he’s an Army-trained sniper and will shoot anyone who attempts to enter his property and remove his possessions, which is, by his own admission, how he sees the animals and justifies their mistreatment. He is wildly rude and threatening to law enforcement, the press, and court officials, makes very thinly-veiled threats to people’s lives, and point-blank refuses to follow any legislation regarding the handling of exotic animals. When the authorities seize his collection, he tries to hide several of his most valuable animals in a lightless, airless box truck which is promptly discovered and emptied.
Eventually, Stark goes on the run, constantly posting insane rants to social media intimating that he’s going to blow himself up with a grenade which is later discovered to be a children’s toy. He was eventually apprehended after being overheard talking about himself and his animals, and since then things haven’t gone well for him.
As of now, Tim Stark has been ruled a dangerous person, declared himself bankrupt, has had his permit to own and exhibit exotic animals revoked, and is no longer licensed to own or carry any firearms. He has been fined to the point of utter financial ruin and any assets he might have used to recoup costs have been auctioned off. He’s broke, destitute, and delusional, and everything that has happened to him couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.