UPDATE: USDA ‘Indifferent’ to Nosey’s Suffering

Published by Jennifer O'Connor.

Update: In a strongly worded rebuke to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, elephant expert and veterinarian Dr. Philip Ensley called out the USDA’s “negligence and incompetence” for failing to take any action to help Nosey. Dr. Ensley called Nosey’s case the worst, most prolonged documented example of unalleviated suffering and abuse in an elephant that he has ever reviewed. Nosey is in critical condition, requiring immediate, appropriate veterinary care and relocation to a facility that can provide for her special needs.

Originally posted October 10, 2014:

In late September, attorneys from the PETA Foundation and its Captive Animal Law Enforcement (CALE) division met with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials to demand that the agency take an ailing elephant named Nosey and other crippled elephants off the road.

Yet the high-level agency officials showed up unprepared to address concerns about Nosey; admitted that despite all the detailed documentation, materials, and complaints submitted by PETA, they hadn’t bothered to familiarize themselves with Nosey’s situation; and refused to commit to enforcing the Animal Welfare Act to protect her.

Prior to the meeting, the USDA had heard from more than 165,000 people demanding that the agency take action for Nosey. And PETA submitted documentation of her condition to the USDA well in advance, including the opinion of an elephant veterinarian with decades of experience who observed Nosey on four different days and concluded that she “undoubtedly suffers from advanced arthritis and degenerative joint disease, resulting in ongoing pain, and most likely permanently impaired limb function.” The USDA’s response: “It’s not our job” to physically examine animals.

In other CALE news:

  • Even though it is known for raising money for many worthwhile causes, the G2 Gallery in California planned to use a cheetah (provided by the San Diego Zoo) as a prop to accompany guest speaker Dr. Laurie Marker, who wrote a book about—wait for it—cheetah conservation. CALE contacted the gallery to ask it to reconsider. CALE also asked the Los Angeles Animal Services to alert the agency to the possibly illegal event, and the cruel and dangerous cheetah appearance was quickly canceled.
  • After seeing a video showing people swimming with adult alligators whose mouths had been taped shut at a Florida outfit called Everglades Outpost, CALE asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to investigate. Such interactions not only violate Florida law, as the agency has recognized, but also are dangerous for both the animals and the public. In addition to the obvious dangers associated with swimming with alligators, the animals may also harbor salmonella, tuberculosis, and Aeromonas hydrophila (a “flesh-eating” bacterium).
  • CALE has repeatedly appealed to NBC officials, including the producers of The Today Show, to stop glamorizing exotic animals in captivity, and they seem to be listening. Despite a recent appearance by Jeff Musial, who recently hauled a coatimundi, a kookaburra, and a snapping turtle to the studio, discussions with NBC’s standards director have been positive, and CALE will continue to work to keep abusive animal exhibitors off the air.
  • Brian Staples, who operates a traveling animal display called Staples Safari Zoo, is in more hot water. CALE recently filed a USDA complaint about lemurs from the zoo who escaped and reportedly ran free at the North Franklin County Fair in Ozark, Arkansas, and Staples’ license is due to be suspended. But in the meantime, another visitor to the fair reported that the vast majority of the animals had no access to water since many of the water receptacles were empty or flipped over, that an apparently stressed and bored fox was attempting to dig out of his or her enclosure and was repeatedly biting the metal wire cage, and that fairgoers were throwing food into the primate enclosures. CALE filed a second USDA complaint and asked for action to be taken.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind