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Judge Dismisses Circus’s Complaint Against PETA

Free Speech Prevails: UniverSoul’s Complaint Over Group’s Public Appeal to Stop Abuse of Elephant Thrown Out

For Immediate Release:
June 24, 2013

Wendy Wegner 202-483-7382

Atlanta — On Friday afternoon, an Atlanta judge dismissed the UniverSoul Circus’ complaint over PETA’s efforts to spread the word about UniverSoul’s hiring notorious elephant abuser Hugo Liebel to exhibit a suffering elephant named Nosey in the circus’ shows. UniverSoul filed the case after PETA urged its supporters to join in asking the circus and its hosting venues not to force Nosey to perform tricks. Because UniverSoul refused to certify that its complaint was not intended to suppress free speech rights, the circus’s complaint was dismissed with prejudice.

“PETA is pleased—but not surprised—that its motion to dismiss this inaccuracy-laden complaint was granted,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “PETA will continue to exercise its right to free speech and advise the public that elephants, tigers, and other captive exotic animals suffer greatly every day in circuses like UniverSoul.”

Liebel—who recently faced dozens of charges for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act, including for chaining Nosey so tightly by two legs that she could barely move and repeatedly denying her veterinary care—is not the only chronic animal abuser who has gone on the road with UniverSoul. The circus continues to partner with notorious big-cat exhibitor Mitchel Kalmanson, despite his extensive list of violations while with UniverSoul—including, as recently as this April, keeping tigers in tiny cages and never letting them out for exercise.

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