In Polk County, Florida, 40 Asian elephants retired over a year ago from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Enough of their mandatory performances requiring the three-ton animals to stand on one foot, carry actors on their backs in huge contraptions and circle the main ring of the circus holding each other’s tail while lights, cameras, cheering and raucous whistles echoed through the giant tents. Enough of the bull hooks and heavy batons used to keep the animals frightened with impending pain if they didn’t perform.
And when the performances of the elephants finally stopped, animal rights activists hailed it as a win against a long suffering, abusive form of entertainment.
So what about Nosey? Taken from her mother at two-years-old and shipped from Africa to the United States, Nosey has been forced to perform her entire life. Why doesn’t she get to retire from performing, from giving rides, from traveling around the country in a small, cramped prison on wheels? For anyone not familiar with her, she is a 35-year-old African elephant with the Great American Family Circus; she is owned by Florida resident Hugo “Tom” Liebel who has and continues to cart her across the country for the last 30 years.
This weekend Nosey is at Great Pumpkin Patch in Hayden Alabama. Advocates have come to peacefully protest Nosey’s sad plight. Nosey’s owners disagree and say they regard the elephant as part of their family and she is treated very well. To the contrary however, the owners have been cited by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for nearly 200 animal-welfare violations; the most recent appearing this past June:
“June 16, 2017: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) denied Liebel’s application to renew his permit to possess Nosey in Florida on the grounds that he “withheld itinerary information” and submitted “materially false information” to the agency. Liebel had told the FWC that he didn’t have any current travel itineraries, which the agency confirmed was false.”
Furthermore a number of citations referred to Nosey’s mistreatment from being tethered too tightly along with other negligent and animal abuse complaints:
“Liebel repeatedly failed to treat her visibly poor skin condition (he was advised of concerns regarding her skin care as early as April 17, 2007, yet they hadn’t been addressed to date); nails and metal rods were near her in the elephant barn; she was tethered in such a manner than she could move only a few feet from side to side; she was chained by two feet so tightly that she couldn’t lie down on her side or make any forward or backward movement; the trailer used for transporting her contained accumulations of equipment in close proximity to her and had loose metal ceiling panels, exposed bolts, and flaking interior paint; she was tethered in a manner that forced her left foot in a forward position; she was repeatedly left unattended and accessible to members of the public; a veterinarian wasn’t consulted after she was observed…”
And so Nosey, who suffers from arthritis and other age related maladies, has spent the entire week in Alabama giving people rides – her head hanging low. One observation from a Facebook post painted her sad story:
“… third of her tusk is a pulp cavity made up of tissue, blood and nerves. So that if injured, traumatized or broken will cause endless pain and/or aching. Likened to a horrendous toothache. And this we know Nosey has had injury and trauma to her tusks being used by connecting a swing and having a Liebel swing back and forth as Nosey faltering walks in circles and then performs stupid tricks; her tusks have been used as a point of hooking, used as a “pull up” exercise hoist…”
Concerned animal lovers just want Nosey retired to a sanctuary where she can live and mingle with other elephants. For nearly her entire life, the elephant has lived a solitary existence. During the past few years, government officials have become involved fighting for her freedom; urging the Secretary of Agriculture to remove Nosey. In 2016, New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak sponsored a bill called “Nosey’s Law” which would end the traveling circus elephants across the state of New Jersey – making it the first state to enforce such a law that animal lovers across the country continue to support.
The Liebel family do have some supporters, but mostly owners of other animal acts who also travel around with their four-legged performers – willing or unwilling. It’s not much of a convincing platform supporting circus elephants forced to perform as most of the American population have spoken out against all animal acts in circuses.
We have long regarded elephants as being extremely intelligent and possessing deep emotions towards their herds and their offspring. Isn’t it about time, Nosey got to be an elephant and live by her own rules?
Follow along on the Facebook page Nosey the Elephant Needs our Help.
Follow the National Pet Rescue on Facebook.
(Photos via Facebook)
Video of Nosey the elephant giving rides:
Posted by Sue Dicker on Saturday, October 21, 2017