Written by Jeff Mackey
We have some news to share about a case that we've mentioned recently: Disreputable animal exhibitor Hugo Liebel, facing a hearing next week in Florida, has instead
settled with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding 33 violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)—several of which sprang from charges that followed
PETA complaints to the agency.
The USDA's consent decision orders Liebel to stop violating
the AWA and to pay a civil penalty of $7,500. While it's encouraging to see
Liebel called to account for causing so much suffering, the fine is vastly inadequate
in light of the severity of his abuse and negligence. (Liebel faced a maximum
penalty of $330,000 as well as possible license revocation.)
More critically, it leaves Nosey the elephant and other animals—as well as the public—in danger from his well-documented recklessness and
disregard of even minimal welfare guidelines.
PETA has been filing complaints against Liebel for nearly a
decade—more than a dozen of them since 2009 alone—about Nosey and the other
animals traveling with Liebel. Yet despite multiple citations, he has
habitually abused these animals. So PETA is calling on the USDA's inspector general
(IG), Phyllis K. Fong, to investigate the settlement.
Over the past two decades, the IG's office has issued four
audit reports finding that USDA penalties were so low that they provided no
deterrent effect and that AWA licensees view them as merely one of the costs of
doing business. Despite assurances that the agency would address this issue
following the last audit, Liebel's settlement makes it clear that the problem
Please join PETA in urging the IG to investigate the USDA settlement
with Liebel and require penalties strong enough to curb animal abuse by
exhibitors. Send polite e-mails to email@example.com.
Update 2: Thanks for your calls and e-mails in Nosey's behalf. We have learned that Nosey is no longer
appearing with UniverSoul Circus. PETA will, of course, continue to monitor her
situation, and we'll post updates here. Please learn more about ways to help animals used for entertainment.
Update: As UniverSoul
Circus prepares to force Nosey to perform next week in Tallahassee, Florida,
actor Cheryl Hines has written an urgent letter to the manager of the North Florida Fairgrounds
imploring him to cancel the ailing elephant's appearances. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has also added his
voice in a plea to stop UniverSoul Circus from allowing Nosey to perform. Local activists have
also planned to demonstrate at the fairgrounds in Nosey's behalf.
Originally posted on February 20th, 2013:
Can you help us help Nosey, an ailing elephant exhibited by Hugo Liebel? Recent photographs of her led an elephant expert to conclude that her health is worsening, and PETA is calling on local law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to confiscate Nosey, who will soon be forced to perform with UniverSoul Circus.
The photos were taken during a recent Liebel Family Circus show in Davenport, Florida. (PETA had urged Davenport officials to cancel the show, but they failed to act to protect Nosey.) Upon review, a veterinarian with decades of experience treating and caring for elephants determined that Nosey's painful skin condition continues to deteriorate and that she is suffering as a result.
In addition to these welfare concerns, records just obtained by PETA reveal that Nosey tested positive on a StatPak test for tuberculosis (TB) antibodies in January 2012. A positive test can be an early indicator of TB infection, which is highly transmissible between elephants and humans. Indeed, direct contact with a TB-positive elephant is not necessary for transmission of the disease. This is particularly worrisome given Liebel's record of unlawful unsupervised and dangerous contact between Nosey and the public.
Liebel has been abusing and neglecting Nosey for years. PETA has been filing complaints against the circus with the USDA for nearly a decade—more than a dozen of them since 2009. In March, Liebel is set to face almost three dozen formal charges for violations of the Animal Welfare Act—most of them relating to Nosey, including repeatedly chaining her so tightly that she could barely move and repeatedly denying her veterinary care.
Upon learning through a public records request that UniverSoul Circus planned to use Nosey in its Florida shows, PETA implored UniverSoul CEO Cedric Walker to spare the suffering elephant but has received no response, so the group is stepping up its campaign to get Nosey the help that she so desperately requires.
Records just released to PETA by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) show that notorious elephant exhibitor Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) was cited by the agency in late August 2012 for violating the Animal
Welfare Act (AWA), following a complaint submitted by PETA.
Pachyderms—and the Public
According to its newly released inspection report, the USDA cited HTWT for failing to comply
with the AWA requirement that a knowledgeable and experienced handler have
direct control and supervision of elephants during public exhibition.
Not only do elephant rides endanger humans and elephants,
they're also cruel. After Animal Defenders International released video footage showing that adult and baby elephants cried out in pain as HTWT trainers
repeatedly struck them with sharp metal-tipped bullhooks and shocked them with electric prods in 2011, numerous venues severed all ties
with the company. It's simply unconscionable for fairs and other attractions to
keep hosting HTWT given its history of abuse and endangerment.
What You Can Do
Please join PETA in urging the San Diego County Fair to
join the ranks of the Orange
County Fair, the Santa
Ana Zoo, and the L.A. County Fair and stop hosting HTWT or any other providers of elephant rides.
The following was originally posted on September 25, 2012.
of a change in the council's agenda, a
vote was not held on the 25th. Please keep watching The
PETA Files for further details, and visit RinglingBeatsAnimals.com to
learn about more ways to put a stop to circus cruelty.
This is exciting: Today, the City of
Anaheim will consider banning
the use of exotic animals in traveling exhibitions—including circuses! Ringling Bros. includes Anaheim in its annual California tour. Imposing
an exotic-animal ban would reinforce PETA's intensive efforts to stop Ringling from abusing
elephants and other animals.
Anaheim is where one of Ringling's elephants, Sarah, collapsed in 2011 after Ringling forced her to continue performing despite a chronic
infection. If passed, the ban will ensure that she—and all the elephants used
by Ringling—will never again be subjected to further cruelty in that city.
Currently, Anaheim has a ban on keeping exotic animals, but the
proposed ordinance, introduced by Council Member Lorri Galloway, would remove
an existing exemption for circuses and other traveling acts. Anaheim would join
Ontario, Canada, in the growing list of
North American jurisdictions that are currently considering bans on the use of bullhooks, elephants, or all exotic animals in circuses.
If you live in the Anaheim area, please join the concerned citizens who will be meeting at City Hall to speak in favor of the ban during the City Council's 5 p.m. meeting.
Wherever you reside, learn how you can help
PETA put an end to Ringling's cruelty.
Written by Michelle Kretzer
Florida, is crowded with "elephants," and Charlotte, North
Carolina, will soon be filled with "donkeys" as Republicans and
Democrats gather for their respective national conventions. But which real
animal would win in a showdown between an elephant and a donkey? PETA takes
stock of the competition:
Physical prowess: Elephants are
active for 18 hours a day and can travel up to 30 miles a day. But donkeys are
no couch potatoes, either. They can run up to 30 miles per hour and are
sure-footed on rocky mountain crags.
Compassion: Elephants wince when they see another
elephant in pain, and an entire group will pitch in to help a mother elephant rescue her
drowning baby. But donkeys are often
prized companion animals because they are affectionate and are patient with children. Donkeys are also often
tasked with watching over herds of sheep or goats.
Beauty: Standing up to
13 feet tall with trunks that can reach for 7 feet, elephants make for quite a
majestic sight. Donkeys, the smallest members of the horse family, are
beautiful in their own right, with soft coats of fawn, chocolate, red, or black
fur and a graceful gait.
Intelligence: In an experiment
to see if elephants could figure out that they had to work together, both pulling
opposite ends of a rope, in order to move food close to them, the elephants not only succeeded
but also figured out a
shortcut that researchers hadn't thought of. Donkeys aren't short on smarts,
either. Companion donkeys
answer to their names, go for walks off leash,
and can even learn to pull carts through obstacle courses.
Enjoying leisure time: Elephants like
to cool off by using their trunks to spray water all over their bodies. They
also flirt with other elephants they are interested in. Donkeys know how to
relax, too, by finding a shady spot in which to curl up to escape the afternoon
heat or rolling on their backs in the grass or dirt. Companion donkeys also
love receiving treats and ear rubs.
close as it is, I think we have to call this one a tie. Please "cast your
vote" in favor of protecting elephants by refusing to support circuses and zoos and protecting donkeys
by opposing donkey
basketball games and the roundup and slaughter of wild
horses and donkeys.
As President Obama hits the road, he's finding himself dogged
by an elephant. PETA is asking Mr. Obama to direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) to start confiscating these abused animals, who are so cruelly trained and treated by Ringling Bros. and other circuses.
In fact, in the circus, abuse is the norm. Handlers frequently embed the sharp end of a bullhook into the soft tissue behind elephants' ears and knees and under their chins.
The USDA has the ability and the responsibility to seize suffering animals, and
yet the agency allows them to travel up to 50 weeks a year in cramped and
filthy boxcars and trailers, to be kept in shackles, and to be beaten. Even
lame elephants are forced to stand with all their weight pressing on their hind
legs and to perform tricks that can only be painful.
PETA's complaints against Ringling Bros.—filed over several years—regarding beatings and the death of elephants, including one particular baby among several who succumbed during training, resulted in the largest fine in circus
history. But while fining Ringling Bros. and then Cole Bros. circuses is a good step in the right direction, it is only small step, and it does nothing to abate the horrors that elephants are enduring right now. The
USDA must use its powers of confiscation and remove from abuse the dozens of elephants who are still suffering in circuses. That's why PETA is appealing directly to the president.
Please take a minute of your time to weigh in regarding these suffering elephants and push for them to get the retirement they deserve. Please use this form to urge President Obama to order the USDA to confiscate all ailing animals from Ringling and other circuses now. And, if Ringling or another circus is coming to your town, please contact us, and we’ll give you all the
information and materials that you need to convince people to stay away.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
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.