URGENT: Sick, Abused Elephant Set to Perform in UniverSoul Circus

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.


Related Stories:

Elephants Go First: L.A. Takes Steps to Stop Circus Cruelty

Shocking Video of Britain’s Oldest Circus Elephant Beaten

A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words: Cruelty to Baby Circus Elephants Exposed



Peggy B
Peggy B10 months ago


Filomena C
Filomena C10 months ago

Poor Nosey! She is suffering a long time ago and who can stop this, don't do nothing!
God help Nosey!

Neville B.
Neville B2 years ago









sharon wardle
Sharon Wardle3 years ago



More Details on the Action for Nosey Now Group page on Facebook


Janis S.
Janis S3 years ago

I cannot believe that nothing has been done to rescue this poor elephant.... It is the most horrible, cruel, unfeeling, sadistic thing I have ever heard of and the people that could force this monster to stop this cruel treatment kf the poor elephant is just as horrible and shares the blame for mistreatment to the poor animal. I am just appalled .

lesley turnbull
lesley turnbull3 years ago

Is this poor elephant still enduring the tortures of this circus? Didn't the petition do anything? What is current update? Anyone know?

L. C.
Ms. L. C3 years ago

Hugo "Tommy" Liebel Must Be Stopped, And He Should Never Be Able To Go Near Any Animals Again.
And A Good Punishment For Him Would Be For Him To Receive The Very Same Treatment He Forced On Poor Nosey.

Charmaine M. Anderson

When my sons were still very little, I took them to the circus. During intermission, they had elephant rides for people. I paid for the tickets for them to have a ride. When they were seated, I asked the handler if I could come closer to take a picture, and he told me "sure". When I got closer, I noticed that he was holding a bull-hook to keep the elephant "under control", but the elephant had tears rolling down his or her face and just looked sooo tired, I don't think he needed to be "controlled". When I saw him crying like that, I asked for my boys to be taken off. They weren't happy with me, and I guess they were just too young to understand, even though I told them that the elephant was crying. The other kids were still up there, so I was just a mean mom. I have never gone back to a circus since, and I have never let my children go back either. To this day, I just can't get those elephant tears out of my head and definitely not my heart. I have always wondered what happened to that poor, heartbroken animal. I hope that at some point, he was taken from the circus and placed in a sanctuary or some nice place where he would be loved and cared for properly for the rest of his life. I never took that picture, but in some ways, I wish I would have. I should have taken it to someone in a humane society and/or reporters....something. I have always regretted that. I could have done more to help him. I just wanted to take my sons away from there as fast as I could. I just told them

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Jeaneen, you need to read the facts, and it has been "said" that he was ACCUSED of "X" number of violations, not convicted. You also need to look at who accused him and WHEN. This article, itself, is months old and as for Nosey going to a sanctuary, it was an independent inspector/observer FROM the very sanctuary suggested that saw her and determined she's being taken care of adequately. The so-called "violations" were mostly minor stuff such as having hay available that wasn't in Nosey's reach (at the time of the inspection) or that she had a skin irritation and that was treated and taken care of. All violations reported were either unjustified or addressed and situations changed/improved.

I'm not saying that Nosey shouldn't be given better housing or not used to perform, only that the accusations you've made are not valid at the present time, nor have been for months. People are clicking on a very old discussion and reacting to it as if it's current news. It's not.

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Oliver, if you've never been to a circus, never been to a zoo (of any kind), nor to any "amusement park", you are not qualified to judge them all, period. While I think this elephant deserves better conditions than she has, she still is being treated properly according to law and she has had her conditions inspected by an independent observer, one from the elephant sanctuary that A/R activists are calling for her to be released TO. This is an old article/discussion and the facts as stated, are still being misconstrued and misrepresented. The top photo has no validity. I've asked a dozen times previously (in this discussion, months ago, actually) if anyone has proof that the chained front legs are Nosey's and nobody yet has provided a single response. The video doesn't show abuse. It shows a small enclosure where she's kept while on the road. According to observers, it's not her permanent enclosure.