PETA Calls On Florida to Deny Permits to Abusive Circus Owner

With Nearly 200 Violations of Animal-Protection Laws, Hugo Liebel Is the Last Person Who Should Be Handed a License

For Immediate Release:
April 7, 2014

Contact:
Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Tallahassee, Fla. – According to a former employee’s sworn affidavit, Nosey the elephant, who is exhibited by Davenport-based Hugo Liebel, was viciously beaten by a handler using a sharp metal-tipped weapon called a bullhook and was shocked with an electric prod. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Liebel for nearly 200 animal welfare violations related to his mistreatment of Nosey, spider monkeys, and other animals. Despite the USDA violations—as well as citations from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), including for possessing wildlife without a valid license—the FWC has issued Liebel permits year after year. That’s why PETA has sent a formal request to the FWC urging the agency to deny Liebel’s applications for permit renewal or, at the very least, to forbid him from using Nosey, who attacked and hospitalized a handler, to give rides.

“PETA is calling on the FWC to do the right thing this time and throw Liebel’s permit application in the paper shredder,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “Every time Nosey is chained for hours on end or gouged with a bullhook, the FWC has to share the blame.”

Liebel has been cited repeatedly for chaining Nosey so tightly that she could barely move and for forcing monkeys to live in filth. Nosey is suffering from a skin disease, which Liebel has repeatedly failed to treat adequately, and he has also been cited numerous times for failing to supervise Nosey properly during public exhibition. Last year, the USDA ordered him to pay a penalty following 33 charges for animal welfare violations. Writes board-certified zoo veterinarian and elephant expert Dr. Philip Ensley, “This is the worst, most prolonged, documented example of an uncorrected case of suffering and abuse in an elephant I have ever reviewed.” Ensley also said that if Liebel’s current practices continue, he believes Nosey will attack again and that this time, the victim could be a child.

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“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