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Disturbing Footage Shows Reckless Handling During Elephant Rides

Written by PETA | April 1, 2010

Last year, Renningers Farmers & Flea Market in Mount Dora, Florida, banned elephant rides after PETA provided evidence of Liebel Family Circus’ long list of USDA violations, its history of animal neglect and abuse, and the unavoidable risks posed by elephant rides. Now we are hoping that Daytona Beach, Florida, will follow suit, thanks to footage taken during Liebel’s March visit to the city.

In 2005, Liebel Family Circus entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was assessed a civil penalty of $2,885 for multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including failure to provide adequate space and veterinary care for animals, failure to have an experienced elephant handler, and failure to provide a safety barrier between the animals and the public. And it’s easy to see why from this footage. Talk about a disturbing picture: An individual who was charged with controlling an elephant named Nosey holds a toddler by one hand and in the other holds a bullhook—a sharp, steel-tipped device that workers use to strike, stab, hook, prod, and intimidate elephants in order to make them obey. Not only that, but at one point Nosey was allowed to pick up a bucket while people were on her back. If she’d decided to throw the bucket, someone could have been seriously injured.


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In light of this evidence of dangerous misconduct at Liebel’s stop in Daytona Beach, PETA has sent the footage to the city’s mayor along with a letter asking him to support legislation to prohibit elephant rides in the city.

In the wild, elephants travel in family groups, and female elephants stay with their mothers for their entire lives. Elephants who are trapped in circuses and forced to live in boxcars and endure years of abuse often become depressed and neurotic. Nosey, Liebel’s only elephant, has been with the circus for decades and has already attacked at least one of Liebel’s employees. In 2004, Nosey injured a worker, and after you read the worker’s affidavit to the USDA, you can’t really blame the elephant for her outrage. In the report, the worker recounts the frequent use of electric shock devices on the elephant and details an incident in which a trainer “used the bullhook handle, turned off the lights in the performance ring and beat the elephant. He at the time directed others to take part in that by using other objects such as [a] sledge hammer and shovel handles. At that time, the elephant was staked down by all four legs ….” The employee also states that Nosey’s attack “was not the first time the elephant had reached or struck out at people who worked at the circus.”

Want to help shut down circuses that abuse and neglect animals? Refuse to go and tell your friends and family members to do the same.

Written by Logan Scherer

Commenting is closed.
  • Cindy Pangman says:

    Circus shows are outdated and cruel to the animals they enslave. I find it disturbing in this day and age that people still teach their children that there is nothing wrong with keeping an elephant captive and forcing her to live her life as a sideshow for human entertainment. It’s slavery in its ugliest form. Than animal is miserable. She is a highly social being with thoughts, memories and feelings. Just because she can’t speak your language to tell you…. That does not mean she does not suffer with her memories, hopes, dreams and NEED FOR COMPANIONSHIP WITH OTHER OF HER OWN SPECIES. It is not a “nice” thing for elephants and other social creatures to have this type of companionship, IT IS A NECESSITY for them.

    IMAGINE, please for one minute…. Close your eyes and really image…. Your child’s horror and desperate life…. Your daughter sees you murdered. She is taken by force. Taken by someone who speaks a language she cannot even understand. She is forced into bondage, slavery, she cannot EVER LEAVE her room. EVER. EVER. She cannot play with other children. EVER. She will never have any hope of dreams she may have ever coming to fruition. EVER. EVER. Now remember, this is your daughter you are envisioning. You see, your daughter is not so different from Nosey in her capacity for love, memory, dreams, needing others of her kind to communicate with, comfort and be comforted by.

    Let Nosey go to a sanctuary. Allow her to have some semblance of what it is like to be a happy being for what years she may have left. She cannot tell you, but make no mistake… She is suffering. Emotionally, mentally, physically…. SUFFERING. You cannot truly believe this social, emotional being who has been deprived of contact with her own kind all her life is happy and ok. If you have a shred of feeling for others, I hope you hear what I and others are saying and let her go to a sanctuary.

    The days of circus’s and “amusement” parks who keep animals meant to be wild and who are social creatures are numbered. The scale is quickly tipping. More people do not want to see these animals in captivity than there are those who do. I can learn about Elephants and Lions and Orca and Dolphins by watching the animal channel. I actually PREFER to see them on a nature show than in person in captivity. They deserve to live the life they were meant to. Just like you and me.

    Mahatma Gandhi said:
    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

    PLEASE, PLEASE…. Be an example to your children as to how animals should be treated. They are not meant to live in captivity for human entertainment. They are living beings, not objects.

    I hope you read this in its entirety and that it affects you the way it affects me when I see such social, emotional creatures such as Nosey being kept from HER life.

  • Michelle Evans, Wonthaggi Australia says:

    After reading the Affadivit definitely the CIRCUSES should not be allowed tpo have these wild animals! No wonder these poor animals after years of torture and abuse end up cracking under the pressure and go on a rampage and then subsequently are killed murdered in the process all of these animals should be left to live as naturally as they can in the wild PETA Never stop what you are doing and we as supporters will back you till the end of all this madness against animals is recognised worldwide and stopped!!

  • sara says:

    Just another display of ignorance by humans. We abuse animals for entertainment in circuses we torture and slice them up for our dining pleasure and of course I cant forget we club babies to death for the enjoyment of wearing their pelts. SICK

  • stephania says:

    They should close that circus and remove those poor animals from those beasts well not only that circus if not all circus in the world.

  • Suzanne says:

    only humans persist in destroying demean other species for their own “so called fun” and become so presumtious as to think they have God’s given right to own and destroy! How small and pathetic have we become!!

  • Eve says:

    I saw this horrific display in person. I called the Church where they were at to let them know what exactly they had on display on their front lawn. Church didn’t seem to care. Also just wanted you to know that the name on some of the trailers read Liebling Bros. Family Circus. It was in Daytona Beach a Church called “A Family Church”. They also had ponies and a muledonkey all chained up to a rusty metal merry go round type thing. All these poor thing were left out in the elements yes they had a tent top over them but all sides were exposed to the rain and cold and they were very close to the road.

  • Laura says:

    i LOVE elephants its a shame to see them like this. i liked them ever since i was 5 years old!

  • rilee says:

    elephants are also treated that way in thailand

  • savannah says:

    IF all your going to do is beat your animals then whats the piont in having one? I ahve 15 horses and 10 dogs…and you dont see me beating them. The piont is we have to do something to stop this. I bet they wouldnt like it if we beat them or treat them like they do animals. There just as part of this world as we are.!!!!!

  • lisa says:

    If abuse and neglect has been continueing towards Nosey since 2004 or earlier why is this poor animal still with them? for them to beat her with hammers and shovels while her legs were staked down and just be fined but allowed to keep her is unbelievable. These animals dont have a chance they have no protection.Its disgusting.

  • Debra Dephillips says:

    What a disgrace.. some people are just blind or ignorant

  • James says:

    I like that the article says about the elephant picking up a bucket blah blah blah throwing it and injuring someone blah blah blah… IT IS A GOD DAMNED ELEPHANT!!!!! The last thing i’m worried about is a bucket.


    Gentlmen Stop it right now to use in this way poor elephants.This is not a way to act be a Human Beeing with heart!!!! Sincerly Valeria Lombardi MilanItaly

  • christine says:

    go petai did a protest against cole bors. circus last year and wow it was amzaing all the people that didn’t know about the abuse and i had familes giving me their tickets and said they will never go back!!!so i am so for shuting down circus

  • Susan T says:

    This is simply appalling. I’m not a parent but I can tell you no parent with any ounce of commonsense and concern for their child’s safety would ever allow permit such a foolhardy stunt. What if someone had occurred that frightened the elephant? That little girl may have been TRAMPLED and what of the little ones strapped on her back? It gives me chills. I struggle to understand first peoples’ blindness to potential danger and secondly why they cannot see how inappropriate it is to keep these giants in captivity forcing them to perform stupid acts for our perceived “pleasure”. People really do need to be more willing to consciously evolve. I hope this act is shut down permantently. Thanks again PETA You “rock my world”.