Bourbonnais Fair’s Plan to Host Abused Elephant Draws Fire From PETA

Notorious Exhibitor's History of Animal Welfare Violations and Public Endangerment Could Place Children at Risk

For Immediate Release:
June 24, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Bourbonnais, Ill. – Despite having learned from PETA that elephant exhibitor Hugo Liebel has faced almost three dozen charges for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the Bourbonnais Friendship Festival still plans to host Liebel and allow him to provide rides on a suffering elephant named Nosey starting Wednesday. In response, PETA has posted an action alert on its popular website asking visitors to urge festival organizers to cancel Liebel’s appearance and not to host him again in the future.

As PETA pointed out in a letter to the organizers, a board-certified veterinarian with decades of experience working with elephants and other exotic animals reviewed 20 years’ worth of U.S. Department of Agriculture documents related to Nosey as well as a decade’s worth of photographs and concluded that she has “undergone long term suffering and abuse.” Liebel’s extensive history of violating the AWA includes chaining Nosey so tightly that she could barely move and repeatedly denying her adequate veterinary care for a chronic skin condition.

“If the Bourbonnais Friendship Festival hosts Hugo Liebel’s cruel act, it will virtually be endorsing animal abuse,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA has repeatedly called on the government to confiscate and retire this abused elephant—and we call on all kind people to refuse to support any and all elephant rides.”

PETA has also pointed to the risk to public safety represented by hosting elephant rides and especially allowing children to ride on the back of Nosey, who previously attacked a Liebel employee, hitting him with her tusk and lifting him off his feet. The worker was rushed to the hospital and received stitches for a head injury, but Liebel has continued to allow unsupervised public contact with Nosey.

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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