By Monique Coppola
DAVENPORT, Fla. – Nosey the elephant is in trouble, according to animal welfare activists who have been working to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to revoke the exhibitor's license of the Davenport-based circus that owns her.
Delcianna Winders, an attorney with the PETA Foundation, says Hugo Tommy Liebel, who does business as The Great American Family Circus, has been cited for almost 200 violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Winders points out the violations include chaining the female elephant so tightly, she can barely move, among other concerns.
"Many of them related to failing to treat her skin condition,” Winders adds. “She's suffered from a painful, chronic skin condition for decades and he has repeatedly refused to treat that."
An affidavit from a former circus employee states that Nosey has been shocked with electric prods and beaten with a bull hook.
The USDA has also cited Liebel for not cleaning animal enclosures, mishandling animals and withholding food for training purposes.
Liebel's exhibitor's license expires today, and PETA hopes the USDA won't renew it – and that Nosey will be released to a sanctuary to live out the rest of her days in a more natural environment.
Nosey travels around the country with the circus, and is used to perform tricks and give rides to people.
The USDA says the circus has disregarded its requirements, according to Winders, by failing to handle the elephant safely and supervise her during public exhibition.
"And for allowing dangerous contact between her and the public,” Winders stresses, “even though she actually once attacked a man and sent him rolling down a hill and then, to the hospital."
In the wild, elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight, matriarchal family groups of related females.
Winders says Nosey has been the solitary elephant with this circus for decades. Audiofile.