Some surprising events are taking place in Dade City, Florida. The zoo Wild Things has become the subject of a harassment campaign by none other than People for the Extortion, Torture and Abuse of human beings (PETA).
Dade City’s Wild Things is a 22-acre zoo almost 50 miles outside of Tampa. The facility has hundreds of animal species such as: jaguars, lions, bears, lemurs, macaques, porcupines, bearded dragons, and many other reptiles. Within the last few years PETA has taken an interest in the tigers and the baby tiger cubs the attraction is well known for.
The treatment of the tigers is central to separate lawsuits brought by PETA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The two groups allege Wild Things’s has mistreated tiger baby cubs thus violating the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act.
Wild Things is also being sued by the state of Florida for allegedly receiving donations while not registered as a nonprofit. Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also accuses the zoo of using thousands of dollars of charity donations to pay for Randy Stearns’ wedding and for his mother’s bankruptcy.
Randy Stearns himself, however, is also fighting criminal charges in St. Charles County, Missouri. Stearns is accused of six counts of sexual misconduct exposing himself during June of last year to five girls under the age of 15 at a hotel while attending a conference.
The animal rights groups also alleges that prior to a court-ordered inspection of Stearn’s zoo involving PETA inspectors that would investigate the conditions of tigers in Wild Things possession, almost twenty tigers were not present when investigators showed up. PETA accused Stearns of shipping some tigers to an Oklahoma zoo and others to a Florida sanctuary. Even with that, witnesses have come forward to say the tigers were transported in conditions harmful to the animals in which some were said to have died during their trip.
In the entire time while researching this debacle, one thing is abundantly clear, PETA is working arm-in-arm with Florida and federal officials with a little help from the state’s media to villanize Kenneth Stearns and his zoo. The group has a history of harassing and slandering entertainment and education venues (like zoos and circuses) that use animals in some capacity.
There is a lot that is not known about incidents Stearns and his zoo stand accused of. The one glaring thing of note should be of note is that it is only his treatment of the tigers that is in question, but also that he has also been the subject of death threats made against him too. No complaints of any kind have been brought against Stearns and his zoo for the hundreds of other animals in their possession and it is only recently that these accusations have come to light. Also, it is very odd that a court of law would appoint PETA to be the inspection agency for this controversy.
In terms of Stearns’ conduct with the girls, the allegations against him with the Endangered Species Act, or the alleged misuse of donations, if the accusations against him are valid he should be held responsible. However, with PETA’s vicious campaigns against venues that use animals (like SeaWorld) and the recent witch hunts involving the so-called #MeToo movement, it should not be out of the realm of possibility that animal rights groups in Missouri or so-called feminist activists followed Stearns to the conference and somehow set him up to further complicate his life.
If PETA and other so-called animal rights organizations can edit videos or twist statements to fit their narrative, then slandering someone’s reputation using minors is certainly within their scope of tactics they use. That also may mean that USDA officials and even local media were sympathetic to PETA and helped PETA’s harassment campaign against Wild Things along. If so, that explains Randy Stearn’s defiance since he has had prior contact with all three parties before. Fortunately, Stearns has been steadfast in his opposition to PETA and is standing his ground. He is confident all of this will work out in the end and with the recent election of President Donald Trump, hopefully, it will.
Below are some videos that can help make sense of the controversy in question. One from a local TV news station, the other is Wild Things’s response to PETA’s accusation of mistreatment of tiger cubs.