Written by Jeff Mackey
We have some news to share about a case that we've mentioned recently: Disreputable animal exhibitor Hugo Liebel, facing a hearing next week in Florida, has instead
settled with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding 33 violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)—several of which sprang from charges that followed
PETA complaints to the agency.
The USDA's consent decision orders Liebel to stop violating
the AWA and to pay a civil penalty of $7,500. While it's encouraging to see
Liebel called to account for causing so much suffering, the fine is vastly inadequate
in light of the severity of his abuse and negligence. (Liebel faced a maximum
penalty of $330,000 as well as possible license revocation.)
More critically, it leaves Nosey the elephant and other animals—as well as the public—in danger from his well-documented recklessness and
disregard of even minimal welfare guidelines.
PETA has been filing complaints against Liebel for nearly a
decade—more than a dozen of them since 2009 alone—about Nosey and the other
animals traveling with Liebel. Yet despite multiple citations, he has
habitually abused these animals. So PETA is calling on the USDA's inspector general
(IG), Phyllis K. Fong, to investigate the settlement.
Over the past two decades, the IG's office has issued four
audit reports finding that USDA penalties were so low that they provided no
deterrent effect and that AWA licensees view them as merely one of the costs of
doing business. Despite assurances that the agency would address this issue
following the last audit, Liebel's settlement makes it clear that the problem
Please join PETA in urging the IG to investigate the USDA settlement
with Liebel and require penalties strong enough to curb animal abuse by
exhibitors. Send polite e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update 2: Thanks for your calls and e-mails in Nosey's behalf. We have learned that Nosey is no longer
appearing with UniverSoul Circus. PETA will, of course, continue to monitor her
situation, and we'll post updates here. Please learn more about ways to help animals used for entertainment.
Update: As UniverSoul
Circus prepares to force Nosey to perform next week in Tallahassee, Florida,
actor Cheryl Hines has written an urgent letter to the manager of the North Florida Fairgrounds
imploring him to cancel the ailing elephant's appearances. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has also added his
voice in a plea to stop UniverSoul Circus from allowing Nosey to perform. Local activists have
also planned to demonstrate at the fairgrounds in Nosey's behalf.
Originally posted on February 20th, 2013:
Can you help us help Nosey, an ailing elephant exhibited by Hugo Liebel? Recent photographs of her led an elephant expert to conclude that her health is worsening, and PETA is calling on local law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to confiscate Nosey, who will soon be forced to perform with UniverSoul Circus.
The photos were taken during a recent Liebel Family Circus show in Davenport, Florida. (PETA had urged Davenport officials to cancel the show, but they failed to act to protect Nosey.) Upon review, a veterinarian with decades of experience treating and caring for elephants determined that Nosey's painful skin condition continues to deteriorate and that she is suffering as a result.
In addition to these welfare concerns, records just obtained by PETA reveal that Nosey tested positive on a StatPak test for tuberculosis (TB) antibodies in January 2012. A positive test can be an early indicator of TB infection, which is highly transmissible between elephants and humans. Indeed, direct contact with a TB-positive elephant is not necessary for transmission of the disease. This is particularly worrisome given Liebel's record of unlawful unsupervised and dangerous contact between Nosey and the public.
Liebel has been abusing and neglecting Nosey for years. PETA has been filing complaints against the circus with the USDA for nearly a decade—more than a dozen of them since 2009. In March, Liebel is set to face almost three dozen formal charges for violations of the Animal Welfare Act—most of them relating to Nosey, including repeatedly chaining her so tightly that she could barely move and repeatedly denying her veterinary care.
Upon learning through a public records request that UniverSoul Circus planned to use Nosey in its Florida shows, PETA implored UniverSoul CEO Cedric Walker to spare the suffering elephant but has received no response, so the group is stepping up its campaign to get Nosey the help that she so desperately requires.
Written by PETA
of chronic neglect of elephants held by Florida-based exhibitor Jorge Barreda, who
uses elephants for rides and rents them out to circuses like UniverSoul, PETA is calling
on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to confiscate the elephants and
relocate them to a sanctuary so that
they can receive the treatment that they urgently need. USDA inspection reports
dating back to April indicate that Barreda has repeatedly failed to provide
vital care for the elephants' feet, which can lead to serious, and even fatal, abscesses,
infections, osteomyelitis, and other problems.
Foot problems are
extremely serious—they are the number one cause of premature death in captive elephants in the U.S.,
who are forced to stand for long hours on hard surfaces instead of walking for
up to 30 miles a day as they would in the wild. Despite the necessity of foot
and other animal exhibitors often neglect this critical aspect of elephants'
Please avoid all circuses
that use elephants and other animals and urge your family and friends to do the
same. Click here
for a list of animal-free circuses.
"Why?" That was the response I received each time I told someone that I was going to intern at PETA this summer. They were apprehensive that I would be thrust into a world of crazed, paint-throwing vegans, but I assured them that I'd be working for a great cause with passionate—and, yes, completely normal—individuals. So, ready to fight for animal rights, I hopped on a plane and was transported to a world of animals, exciting work, and great food. Here are a few highlights from my month-long stint as an intern:
My PETA internship was one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences an animal lover could have because, in the end, it's all about the animals. Oh, and the delicious vegan lunches that were served every day didn't hurt either!
Written by Sarah Hamshari
Sharp-eyed PETA intern Elijah spotted a couple of recent news stories that show (once again) how much we have in common with our primate cousins—monkeys, in this case.
First came word that cotton-top tamarin monkeys can "acquire an affixation rule that shares important properties with our inflectional morphology." Gotta love scientific jargon, huh? Put a bit more simply, they can recognize when a word doesn't have the suffix or prefix they expect to hear. So if you're striking up a conversation with a monkey, watch your language because you're not the only one who knows what "caging" and "killing" means.
Then we learned that rhesus monkeys use the same mechanism—"configural perception" (well, natch)—as humans do to recognize faces. Turns out that monkeys also experience the "Thatcher Effect," which, yes, is named after the former British prime minister. If you don't know what the Thatcher Effect is—I didn't—here's more about it. (If you don't know who Margaret Thatcher is, I can't help you.)
So let's see. Monkeys can recognize Margaret Thatcher upside down. They know prefixes and suffixes, can speak in sentences (and with accents), and can even do math. Heck, they have a stronger skill set than some people I've worked with—although not at PETA, of course. But they're definitely overqualified to be caged and tortured in laboratories at Columbia University or Covance. What really blows my mind is how experimenters can discover all of this and still torture and kill monkeys. Maybe we should be conducting tests on experimenters' empathy instead.
There's no doubt that Survivor alumni Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca know how to make the best of a tough situation. Not even the diagnosis of Ethan's cancer has been able to keep this couple down! When Ethan was diagnosed with CD20-positive Hodgkin's lymphoma earlier this year, he let the world know that he and longtime girlfriend Jenna would be tackling the illness head-on. As he told People magazine in May, "I'll take it on like a real game of Survivor. I'm not getting voted out of this one."
We are, of course, rooting hard for Ethan and Jenna—remember when they posed au naturel for our "Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" campaign? And we were elated to learn that one of the first steps they took toward battling Ethan's cancer was to switch immediately to a vegetarian diet.
We recently had the opportunity to ask Ethan and Jenna a few questions about the couple's switch to a vegetarian lifestyle, and as you can see from their answers, they couldn't be more pleased with their decision. More energy and the chance to help animals and the environment? As Jenna says, "You can't get any better than that, in my mind!"
What made you decide to go vegetarian?Jenna: When Ethan was diagnosed with cancer, we decided that we need to be careful about what we put in our bodies. So we went vegetarian together!
Have you ever considered going vegetarian in the past?Ethan: I was on a macrobiotic diet when I was younger and my father was ill. My entire family made the change to macro to help my father and the cancer he was battling. In addition, I was a vegetarian for 14 years before going on Survivor.
How did you make the transition? Was it gradual, or did you stop eating meat cold (faux) turkey?Jenna: We actually made the transition pretty quickly—just cutting out everything right away. Now, with so many great faux-meat products, it's not as hard as people think anymore to go vegetarian. For instance, in the grocery store are many great faux-meat options, like Gardenburger meatless buffalo chicken wings. Ethan was a huge fan of buffalo chicken wings, so these are a good replacement!
How do you feel since making the switch to a vegetarian diet—any different?Ethan: Yes! We feel like we have more energy and do not consume that many calories during the day.
Studies have shown that the meat industry is deadly to the environment—not only does it contribute to water pollution and deforestation, it's also the biggest contributor to greenhouse gasses and climate change. What do you think about going vegetarian as a way to help the environment?Jenna: I think that any way to help the environment is a bonus, and going vegetarian not only helps the environment but also helps animals too! You can't get any better than that, in my mind!
Written by Amanda Schinke
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.