PETA Statement: Elephant Reportedly Bites Handler at Shrine Circus

For Immediate Release:
May 20, 2016

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

PETA Foundation Captive Animal Law Enforcement Counsel Rachel Mathews released the following statement in response to eyewitness reports that Nosey the elephant—whom Hugo Liebel has forced to perform tricks and give rides for decades, even though she has shown signs of painful arthritis—bit a handler last night at the Shrine circus in Burlington:

It’s never a surprise when a captive elephant lashes out in stress and frustration—the surprise is that it doesn’t happen more often. If the reports are true that this suffering, crippled elephant crushed the hand of a circus worker last night, this wouldn’t be the first time she has attacked. She sent a circus worker to the emergency room several years ago, and we suspect that there have been far more unreported incidents and close calls. PETA is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate this incident. It’s now up to the Shrine circus to protect workers and audiences by canceling all animal acts in its remaining shows, and it’s up to parents to protect their children by staying far away from elephant rides and any circus that bullies animals into performing.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is calling for Nosey to be sent to an accredited sanctuary, where her needs can be properly met. The group has convinced venues to cancel Nosey’s performances, worked with elephant experts, engaged members of Congress, and gathered celebrity support in favor of her release to a sanctuary.

More information is available at

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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