In Moulton, Alabama, Nosey the elephant was led onto a trailer headed to an elephant sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee – on her way to retirement; at least we all hope. Earlier on Thursday, a judge in Lawrence County ordered county officials to seize the elephant and four horses affiliated to a small family traveling circus.
According to WhntNews19, the decision about the animals comes following accusations of mistreatment and animal neglect and abuse. At the three-hour hearing, an elephant behavioral expert, a retired veterinarian and the Lawrence County animal control officer along with circus owners testified. The company called American Family Circus had been transporting the animals from Orlando to Gadsden and stopped in Moulton for brake repairs where they had been for the last several days.
Calls to Animal Services prompted officers to examine Nosey; according to the District Attorney’s Office, Nosey had marks on her legs from being chained. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) promised they won’t stop fighting for Nosey and other imprisoned elephants until they are all free:
“The lame elephant found tightly chained, confined in her own waste, and without proper shelter, was removed from conditions very familiar to all who have tracked her abuse for years. PETA thanks local authorities for seizing Nosey and the court for its decision today to transfer this long-suffering elephant into caring hands. PETA pledges to continue working in her behalf until she’s settled in a spacious sanctuary home at last.”
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.
Advocates continued to peacefully protest Nosey’s sad plight. Nosey’s owners disagreed and stated they regard the elephant as part of their family and insisted 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.”
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?
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