PETA Seeks to Block Notorious Elephant Abuser’s License Renewal

Group Cites Hugo Liebel's Nearly 200 Violations of Animal-Protection Laws in Plea to USDA

For Immediate Release:
January 6, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Davenport, Fla. – This morning, PETA sent a formal request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking the agency to deny the renewal of Davenport-based animal abuser Hugo Tommy Liebel’s exhibitor’s license. In the request, PETA refers to the nearly 200 violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) for which the USDA has cited Liebel—who does business as the Great American Family Circus, in addition to numerous other aliases. They include repeatedly chaining an isolated elephant named Nosey so tightly that she could barely move and confining spider monkeys to filthy conditions. Nosey—whom Liebel forces to give rides and perform tricks—is also suffering from a serious skin disease, which Liebel has repeatedly failed to treat adequately.

“As long as the USDA continues to rubber-stamp Hugo Liebel’s license renewals, Nosey and the other animals at his mercy will continue to suffer,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Renewing Liebel’s exhibitor’s license is like allowing a tax cheat to get off scot-free and giving him a big refund for his ‘trouble.'”

According to a former employee’s affidavit, Nosey has been shocked with electric prods and beaten with a bullhook—a weapon that resembles a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on the end. In addition to receiving numerous citations for inappropriately chaining Nosey and primates, according to the USDA, Liebel admitted to withholding food for training purposes. Although Nosey attacked and sent a worker to the emergency room in 2004, Liebel has repeatedly violated the USDA’s handling requirements by failing to handle her safely and supervise her during public exhibition. In March of last year, the USDA ordered Liebel to pay a penalty and cease and desist from violating the AWA following 33 charges of violations.

PETA’s submission is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA’s blog.

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