For Immediate Release – Satellite Beach, Florida, January 4, 2018 – How long must Nosey the elephant suffer at the hands of her abuser? Are three decades enough? A Florida based nonprofit organization, SaveNoseyNow.org, says it’s time to stop these automatic renewals. SaveNoseyNow.org has submitted a 400 page complaint (including a list of 50 exhibits) to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advocating for the denial of the Exhibitor License of Hugo T. Liebel, owner of Nosey, a long-suffering elephant. The license is scheduled to automatically renew on January 30, 2018 through the USDA’s administrative process (as it has done for a quarter of a century).
After much due diligence and pressure by Save Nosey Now Inc. and other animal advocacy groups, the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) denied Liebel’s state license in June, 2017, based on false statements on his renewal application. Liebel has appealed this decision, and a hearing to decide the fate of his state license is scheduled on February 28, 2018 at FWC headquarters in Tallahassee, FL. (DOAH Docket #17-6095)
Also at the state and local level, Lawrence County, Alabama officials seized Nosey on November 9, 2017, after she was found chained, standing in her own feces with inadequate food and water available. Nosey was sent for safekeeping to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, a highly accredited sanctuary for former circus and zoo elephants.
On a federal level, the USDA has systematically failed Nosey the elephant for years due to poorly written regulations coupled with lack of enforcement. These include but are not limited to:
- 200 USDA issued citations consistently from 1993 to November 3, 2017 (less than a week prior to the Alabama seizure) for abuse and neglect of Nosey including chaining Nosey so tightly she couldn’t take a step in any direction and couldn’t even stand squarely, or lie down ,
- Rubber stamping Liebel’s license through an annual administrative procedure that only requires Liebel to pay a small fee, provide access to USDA officials, and sign a SELF certification form stating he is in compliance with the Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This procedure does not require actual showing of compliance with regulations.
- Lack of follow up to thousands of citizen complaints since 1993, including egregious complaints about no access to food and water, failure to provide veterinary care for a serious skin condition that had developed an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection that could become septic (Liebel was cited 20 times for this violation), and confining Nosey to her transport trailer for hours or overnight with no ability to raise her head or trunk or make normal postural adjustments or turn around.
Nosey’s fate is currently in the hands of Lawrence County, Alabama District Judge Angela Terry, following 10.5 hours in a final hearing held on December 15, 2017. This will decide if Nosey gets to remain at the sanctuary or is forced to return to her abuser.
A license denial by the USDA would seal Nosey’s fate for the former. However, without public pressure, even pending animal cruelty charges filed against Liebel in Alabama (trial set for February 8, 2017) are not enough to legally stop the USDA from issuing Liebel his 2018 license.
The public deserves to know about the USDA’s failure to act on its own regulations and about the suffering this has caused Nosey, as well as the public safety risks involved. Please let us know if we can provide you with more information.
Any of the exhibits can be provided upon request. Appendix A details the lengthy history of the case. Appendix B details the specific violations of the AWA. The incident reports detail the 2017 venues where Liebel exhibited Nosey, as documented by SaveNoseyNow.org, from around the country. Additional photos and videos are readily available and can all be authenticated.
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This effort to help Nosey and other captive elephants had a simple beginning. In 2014, two Nosey advocates began a conversation that led to a Call-In Action for Nosey event on Facebook. They asked fellow advocates to contact the USDA and urge them to refuse licensure for Nosey’s keeper. In spite of many calls, faxes, emails, and letters, the license was granted, and so it was decided to continue the work by starting a Facebook Group. Save Nosey NOW! was born. Since 2014, the Save Nosey NOW! Facebook group has grown to more than 3200 members. In June 2015, we organized Save Nosey NOW! We Are Her Voice, a peaceful demonstration at the USDA in Washington, DC. People from all over the country gathered to protest renewal of Liebel’s license and to urge the USDA to confiscate Nosey. In January 2016, we hosted the successful Nosey Summit, which brought together major advocacy organizations, including PETA, Animal Defenders International, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, CompassionWorks International, and In Defense of Animals, to share and strategize actions for Nosey. In July we launched Nosey’s Ad Campaign to tell her story in local newspapers where she is performing. Working with other anti-circus advocates, we have also been successful in encouraging venues to cancel Nosey’s appearances. In order to expand our impact on the lives of captive elephants, SaveNoseyNow.org. was registered as a nonprofit corporation in Florida in March 2017.