Davenport Elephant-Ride Operator Cited for Denying Care to Ailing Animal

Violation Comes Just One Year After Feds Slap Chronic Violator With Fine

For Immediate Release:
April 21, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Davenport, Fla. – As revealed in a newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report, a USDA inspector in March found that Nosey, an elephant exhibited by elephant-ride operator Hugo Liebel, had a toenail that was so overgrown that it was “curling upward, and pulling away from the nail bed”—a condition that can lead to serious and potentially fatal foot problems. As a result—just one year after Liebel agreed to pay a $7,500 fine and stop violating the Animal Welfare Act—Liebel has been cited again for neglecting Nosey. He was also cited for endangering the public during elephant rides, because of a large opening in the barrier enclosing the elephant ride area at a circus. The citation follows nearly 200 other violations by Liebel over the years, including 23 citations for failing to provide adequate veterinary care.

“Nosey suffers every day of her life at the hands of Hugo Liebel,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “Scores of violations prove that Liebel is either unwilling or unable to run his despicable operation in accordance with the law.”

Failure to supervise Nosey adequately during public appearances and failure to protect her and the public with adequate barriers were a major basis for the USDA’s 2011 formal complaint against Liebel—and with good reason. In 2004, Nosey attacked a worker, sending him to the hospital.

In a recent report, veterinarian and elephant expert Dr. Phil Ensley predicted that because of Liebel’s inadequate safety practices, Nosey will almost certainly seriously injure or kill another handler, a patron, or a child. Ensley also wrote, “This is the worst, most prolonged, documented example of an uncorrected case of suffering and abuse in an elephant I have ever reviewed.”

PETA, which has submitted several recent complaints regarding Liebel, has asked the USDA and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to revoke his licenses.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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