Disturbing Footage Shows Reckless Handling During Elephant Rides

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2 min read

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

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