By Dave Deluca
Great Lakes Medieval Faire concludes on Aug. 17.
Nosey the elephant gives children rides at the Great Lakes Medieval Faire. But is she doing so while limping?
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals thinks so. A recent PETA media alert said Nosey needs immediate relief for severe pain, and the animal could hurt someone if it is not better cared for.
Larry Rickard, owner of the Great Lakes Medieval Faire, said he believes PETA is exaggerating and losing credibility in the process.
“I asked PETA people to come onto the property to see for themselves that Nosey was fine,” he said. “They came out a couple weeks ago and didn’t even look at the elephant.”
An Aug. 7 PETA press release said a witness went to the Great Lakes Medieval Faire on July 27 and took a video showing the animal being mistreated. The unnamed witness said the animal’s owner, Hugo “Tom” Liebel, jabbed and pulled on Nosey with a bulhook. A PETA spokesperson said Nosey should not be allowed to give rides if she is ailing, and demanded a U.S. Department of Agriculture examination.
Rickard said bullhooks are allowed by law when working with elephants, and Nosey was found to be in good health after a recent USDA examination.
A 1986 Ohio law, Revised Code 959.20, states that using bullhooks when working with circus animals is prohibited, including electric or other prods or similar devices. It does not specifically mention elephants.
PETA spokesperson and Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders said in the release, “PETA is calling on the authorities to step in and stop Nosey from being forced to limp along at The Great Lakes Medieval Faire.”
The PETA release claimed Liebel’s history of mistreating Nosey shows numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including chaining her too tightly and denying care for a skin condition.
Rickard and Liebel both claimed an Aug. 3 USDA report showed no non-compliance items concerning Nosey’s care.
“Elephants are licensed and tracked for elephant rides,” Rickard said. “Nosey is insured. There was an Aug. 3 USDA routine report conducted here at the fair showing no non-compliance items identified. There’s no way we would risk using her for rides if she was sick or injured. She is an amazing animal and is very well-treated.”
Cindy Hotchkiss, operations manager of the Great Lakes Medieval Faire, said she has been in close contact with Nosey since the fair opened July 12. PETA claimed Nosey had an untreated toenail infection in March, but Hotchkiss said she saw the animal in April and there was no such infection.
“I’ve been around elephants and Nosey is the friendliest, nicest elephant I’ve ever encountered,” she said. “She is very well cared for. I’m amazed anyone would make such a claim.”
Rickard said he believes PETA wants to do away with all elephant and human interactions for entertainment.
“I used to be a PETA supporter, but now I think they are only interested in their fundraising and marketing agenda,” he said.
PETA, on the other hand, contends that ‘animals are not ours to use for entertainment,’ and Nosey needs better care.
Nosey’s owner Liebel said his family has been in the circus and animal training business for hundreds of years. He told Star Beacon reporter Warren Dillaway the only violation he ever committed was moving animals from one part of his Florida property to another without informing the government.
“Absolutely nothing happened on Sunday,” Liebel said. “She is fine. If people don’t believe it, they can come out and see for themselves.”