Update: Feds Seek to Terminate Elephant Abuser’s License

For Immediate Release:
July 16, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Davenport, Fla. – PETA has an important update on Hugo Liebel, who notoriously used a suffering elephant named Nosey for rides and circus performances: We have just obtained records revealing that, on May 6, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiated proceedings to terminate Liebel’s federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license, following PETA’s requests that the agency do so.

The USDA’s complaint seeks termination on several grounds, including that Liebel is unfit to be licensed because of the neglect uncovered in Lawrence County, Alabama, where authorities seized Nosey in 2017 after finding her inside Liebel’s dark, cramped trailer, swaying, standing in her own waste, and without adequate water or food. The USDA requested a default decision on July 9.

“For decades, Nosey’s bones ached as she swayed back and forth on concrete and struggled to carry loads of fairgoers on her back while suffering from lameness,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA is counting the days until Hugo Liebel’s license is terminated after his years of abusing Nosey.”

After being seized by law enforcement in Alabama, Nosey was sent to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where veterinarians found that she was malnourished and dehydrated; her scaly, overgrown skin was infected; she had a urinary tract infection and intestinal parasites; she had painful arthritis; and her muscles were atrophied. After less than two years at the sanctuary, Nosey is now thriving: She has expert veterinary care, a vast habitat to roam, and the opportunity to wallow in mud, take dust baths, browse leaves and bark, and more.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. More information about Liebel is available here.

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