UPDATE (2/22/2013): Thanks to you, we collected over 28,500 signatures in under two days asking UniverSoul Circus to stop doing business with Hugo “Tommy” Liebel and not to force Nosey, a sick and suffering elephant, to perform. We have delivered your signatures to UniverSoul’s CEO, Cedric Walker, in advance of Nosey’s first scheduled performance on February 22nd.
An elephant in her 30s named Nosey has been tortured for a long time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) even filed a formal complaint against her owner, Hugo “Tommy” Liebel. Liebel faces close to three dozen charges of violating the Animal Welfare Act, most of which are about the luckless Nosey. The rest are about his two spider monkeys, for whom he has no more compassion than he does for the elephant.
Let’s put this guy out of business.
If we act fast, we may be able to lose him his next big deal. UniverSoul Circus is currently on tour and plans to feature Nosey in its Florida appearances February 22-27. Sign the petition below to ask UniverSoul to cancel these appearances and not to affiliate themselves with Liebel and his cruel, law-breaking ways.
So here’s the deal on Liebel’s treatment of his animals, straight from the USDA, which says “The gravity of the violations…is great.” Liebel tries to fly under their radar by using different names for Nosey (Tiny, Dumbo, Peanut) and for himself, and not registering changes of address. That hasn’t gotten him out of unannounced inspections going back to 2007, which revealed pathetic conditions for the animals.
Every one of the following problems violates the law, which is really saying something given that the law isn’t all that strict.
In one inspection, the government found that in Nosey’s cage “a portion of the metal wall…was detached, exposing a sharp metal edge that could injure the elephant.” On another occasion the inspector found “nails protruding into” Nosey’s “enclosure.” Two years later similar violations remained.
Nosey has “a visibly poor [and painful] skin condition” that Liebel persistently ignores, illegally denying her necessary veterinary care. This malady is observed and noted at pretty much every inspection.
In 2009, an inspector caught Liebel keeping Nosey tethered “in such a manner that the elephant could only move a few feet from side to side, in willful violation” of the law. This could cause “behavioral stress, physical harm or unnecessary discomfort.” She was “tethered by chains around [her] left front and right rear ankles that were so taut that they permitted little movement; the elephant was unable to lie down on her side, or to make any forward or backward movement, and could only move a few feet from side to side.”
Liebel was having a particularly illegal day that day: Nosey’s trailer “contained loose metal ceiling panels, exposed bolts and peeling, chipping and flaking interior paint.” It also “contained accumulations of equipment in close proximity to the elephant during transit.”
A couple months later Liebel tied Nosey up even tighter so she couldn’t even “stand comfortably.” (See video above.) Again he had the chains around her ankles that “were so taut that they permitted little to no movement; the elephant was required to maintain her left front foot in a forward position.”
In October 2009, government inspectors found that Liebel “failed to store supplies of food in facilities which adequately protected such supplies against deterioration, molding, or contamination by vermin, and specifically an open trailer used for food storage was cluttered, dirty and had holes in the floor, there were open bags of feed, and evidence of” rodents and vermin. Yum, vermin.
In February 2010 Nosey “was observed to have lost weight.” Liebel did not consult a veterinarian.
A year later a veterinarian finally instructed Liebel to weigh Nosey. Of course he didn’t.
An “examination of the elephant’s feet revealed overgrowth of the soles, with trapped manure and leaves in flaps of the front feet and the right rear foot.”
This is not an elephant who should be performing tricks in a circus; she should be on bed rest with a strict regimen of pampering and medical care.
Other venues have already canceled their arrangements with Liebel. UniverSoul Circus should do the same. Please sign the petition below to persuade it to shun Liebel.
Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog or check out her blog. less