Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Notorious Elephant Exhibitor Settles With USDA Over 33 Violations

Written by PETA | March 21, 2013

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.

Nosey Deserves More

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

Animals Need Effective Enforcement

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 persists.

What You Can Do

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 phyllis.k.fong@usda.gov.

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  • Pat Reilly says:

    It amazes me that animal abuse continues. So much for being human. It is time to place these criminals in prison.. Animals are living and dying at rates when there will be no more. All are looking for the almighty dollar. It is a fact that I’m constantly, writing, supporting and encouraging people to defend animals rights. They can’t speak for themselves. I know I’m not alone.

  • Maria Espinoza says:

    This saddens me that this type of abuse is allowed. Wish they would close all circus rides. Lord help this elephant.

  • Mari HIll says:

    This beautiful creature has been a slave long enough…give this elephant some freedom and peace.

  • Elizabeth Duggan says:

    I don’t understand why this huge government machine can’t save a single being from abuse despite repeated requests for help and an obviously uncaring owner. What the hell is wrong with their brains?

  • Anita Bennett says:

    Please free Nosey and move her to a safe place where she can live the rest of her life free from abuse and neglect. She has endured much more than any animal ever should have to.

  • marion auffret says:

    Please allow Nosey to go to an elephant reserve or sanctuary, where she can roam free. No animal should be in the circus, as they were not created for our human entertainment. We should be better than that and let Nosey be free. Making money and a living off her pain is not worth it and it’s not humane one bit.

  • Kate H says:

    this poor intelligent being has suffered enough. let her enjoy her final years comfortably.

  • tomáš trý says:

    stop!

  • Richard Pendarvis says:

    Please revoke Liebel’s license to exhibit animals and investigate the USDA’s settlement. Liebel has a track record of animal abuse and should not be allowed to possess animals. I hope Nosey the elephant can be transferred to an animal sanctuary where he can live out the remainder of his miserable life in peace.

  • Julia Leonard says:

    Please allow Nosey the opportunity to live out the rest of her life free from chains and abuse. Thanking you from the heart for having the power to help an elephant in need.

  • Diego Garcia says:

    Justice for Nosey! Please help save her from the torment and abuse that she has been subjected to for so long. This peaceful and sensitive being deserves to be put in a sanctuary.

  • Pauline says:

    Please let Nosey the elephant live a peaceful life and go to a sanctuary!

  • agnes henet says:

    outrageous….degusting…stop it immediatly

  • chel1720 says:

    USDA obviously doesn’t care about animal welfare

  • Kim Littlefield says:

    Please allow Nosey to go to an elephant reserve or sanctuary, where she can roam free. No animal should be in the circus, as they were not created for our human entertainment. We should be better than that and let Nosey be free. Making money and a living off her pain is not worth it and it’s not humane one bit.

  • Carole Major Leupi says:

    why does this cruel person continue to be allowed to own and abuse animals?

  • Michelle Hayward says:

    Phyllis K. Fong please investigate why Liebel have only been charged $7,000. It must have cost more than that to investigate them in the first place. The amount of suffering caused and the repeated disregard for the law needs to be reflected in the fines. $7,000 is a ridiculously low amount.

  • Cailey says:

    he needs to get out of there :(

  • Helena Beaumont says:

    I’ve protested outside this awful “circus” for years. Nosey suffers horribly. She treated terribly. Yelled at and humiliated by that miserable man.

  • anne roberson says:

    I would really like to know what it will take to make this abuse stop. A paltry fine for someone like this perennial offender, Hugo Liebel, means nothing. I am serious. What will it take to stop the abuse? Respectfully inquiring.

  • N Spilberg says:

    This poor poor dear needs saving. Please, we are sending out the plea to rescue her from her “owner”. This is NOT a life for her or any elephant! STOP using elephants in “entertainment”! It is not entertainment..it is abuse!!! :((

  • Brenda Seldin says:

    I’m asking IG Fong to investigate the USDA settlement with Liebel because the penalties given to him were very low ($7500) and will not act as a deterrant to further abuse. He should lose his license and the animals should go to a sanctuary.

  • julie says:

    I have sent the letter below to the USDA Inspecttor general’s office and will follow up with a phone call. Please keep working to end Nosey’s suffering! I do donate to PETA. Dear Ms. Fong, I am astounded that Hugo Leibl has been allowed to settle his years of abuse of Nosey for a mere $7,500. This is an outrage! My hopes were high that the people who had the power to stop someone who is breaking the law and to protect an abused animal would do something to end years of suffering. What is it that the USDA has to gain from setting this precedent? As you know, an affidavit from a circus employee recounts Liebel’s affinity for bullhooks and electric prods and details one incident in which Nosey was staked by all four legs and beaten with a bullhook by Liebel. Liebel also instructed other workers to beat her with objects such as shovel handles and sledge hammers. Surely, you see the need for justice to intervene. At the very least, Nosey should be confiscated from this abusive man, and released from the cruel life imposed upon Nosey 28 years ago. PAWS or the Tenesse Sanctuary would be happy to give Nosey the retirement she deserves. Can’t you please end this animal’s suffering? Allowing this inhumanity to continue leaves the impression that the U.S. is an uneducated, discompasionate nation who allow people to flout Animal Welfare laws in the face of authority. Many countries, have banned circuses – particularly travelling ones. Many of these countries are less affluent and have fewer advantages than the U.S., yet recognize the archaic brutality inherent in this expoitive business. Some of these countries include the U.K. Singapore, Bolivia, Estonia, Bosnia, Costa Rica, Austria, Israel and many more. I respectfully charge that you have not fulfilled the responsibilities of your authority or your moral responsibility to the animals and the people who you serve. In the name of decency, I implore you to inspect Hugo Leibl again, bring charges and follow through to confiscate Nosey.

  • Alexi Howk says:

    Please revoke Liebel’s license to exhibit animals and investigate the USDA’s settlement. Liebel has a track record of animal abuse and should not be allowed to possess animals. I hope Nosey the elephant can be transferred to an animal sanctuary where he can live out the remainder of his miserable life in peace.

  • nancy says:

    What good does a fine do? nothing. She still continues to suffer.

  • cyberksmith says:

    My letter has been sent to Fong. Leibel is evil.

  • Kate H says:

    Unnacceptable

  • Maria Fiallos says:

    Settling with Liebel is unacceptable. Nosey needs to go to a sanctuary and live with other elephants. Please study up on elephants social needs. Just being alone is abuse for an elephant.