Wild Things park faces new legal problems

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Dade City's Wild Things is facing another round of legal problems after the park violated two court orders in a matter of days.

The private zoo in Pasco County is the target of a lawsuit filed by PETA accusing it of mistreating its tigers.

"Dade City's Wild Things forces baby tigers to engage in encounters with the public including encounters in which they're forced to swim against their will," Brittany Peet said Thursday.

In two separate filings, a judge ordered Wild Things to keep the animals at its facility and to let PETA on the property to examine them.

But when members of the organization arrived Thursday, they were not allowed in and were greeted by a  sign that read, 'Closed due to PETA terrorist death threat."

"Part of the discovery process is an inspection so that PETA's experts can take a look at how the  Tigers are being treated, the conditions in which they're kept and how the encounters are held," Peet explained.

PETA filed the lawsuit last October. Nine months later, the facility and a park in Oklahoma run by  Joe Maldonado agreed to transfer the tigers.

PETA, however, caught wind of the plan and asked a judge to force Wild Things to hold onto the tigers for now. A day later Wild Things shipped 19 of the park's 22 tigers away.

Maldonado said he was unaware of any legal issues and told FOX 13 he'd been planning to take the animals for two weeks.

"Now we're just stuck in the middle of all this drama," he said.

And now there's more drama: PETA wants Wild Things Director Kathryn Stearns held in contempt for violating the court orders.

On top of that, the facility's attorney is asking off the case. Court documents show the lawyer is unhappy Stearns moved the tigers even though she was told not to.

Stearns has not returned FOX 13's calls. In the past, she's said she feels unfairly singled out.

"They're targeting me and going after me and nobody else," she said.

PETA hopes to appear before a judge Friday to ask the court to come down hard on Wild Things.