Victory! Nosey the Elephant Wins Her Freedom at Long Last!

Victory! Nosey the Elephant Wins Her Freedom at Long Last!

Nosey, the well-championed 35- year- old African elephant, has become the “poster elephant” for captive elephants, especially for those cruelly abused in traveling performances. Nosey has now become a beaming success story whose trajectory will inspire rescues for elephants still forced to perform on the road. Lawrence County, Alabama Judge Angela Terry has just declared that Nosey the elephant will no longer be the "property" of notorious Hugo Liebel and his cruel traveling circus. She ruled that Nosey’s custody has been granted to Lawrence County Animal Control and Kimberly Carpenter, the compassionate animal control officer who was pivotal in getting Nosey seized in November. 

In response, Carpenter said she wants to see Nosey remain at the sanctuary. Despite a possible appeal by the Liebel family, custody papers will be drawn up by Assistant District Attorney Callie Waldrep, that will release Nosey over to the sanctuary permanently. In Defense of Animals and other organizations have been advocating for Nosey for years. Your letters, phone calls, and actions made a difference for Nosey by telling her heartbreaking story and calling out her abuser. When Nosey finally had her day in court, her long, documented history of abuse was undeniable.

No one could have predicted that Hugo Liebel’s car trouble would be the twist of fate that would lead Nosey to her long deserved freedom. On November 7, 2017, in Lawrence County, Alabama, animal control officers were called to investigate an elephant found on the side of Highway 157. Nosey was found tightly chained, standing in her own waste, without proper shelter, food, or water. With concerns for her care and well-being, Nosey was seized by authorities and transported to the nearby Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

Little did they know that this elephant was the famous Nosey, with supporters all over the country, who have been calling out her abuser, Hugo Liebel, and advocating for her freedom for well over a decade. Nosey is finally out of Liebel’s abusive grasp. With over 200 USDA violations on record for his abuse of Nosey, the USDA repeatedly failed to intervene and revoke Liebel’s licence. Now Hugo Liebel and his wife, Francizka, are facing animal cruelty charges, and have a court date set for February 8th. Perhaps they themselves will soon experience what imprisonment and deprivation feel like.

In the ten hour trial that took place in December, Dr. Lydia Young, a veterinarian at the Elephant Sanctuary submitted testimony that amongst Nosey’s osteoarthritis, urinary tract infection, bacterial infections in the cracks of her skin, roundworms, a swollen leg, and a belly shape that indicated a too often empty stomach, “Nosey had the most severe build-up of dead skin of any elephant that I’ve ever observed.”

Nosey has been under Liebel’s abusive rule for 30 years, but now her days are filled with the rolling hills of a sanctuary, healthy natural foraging, ponds, expert veterinary care, loving attention, and eventually, integration with the other elephants at the sanctuary. Nosey is experiencing what it is like to be an elephant for the first time in over 30 years. She is living and roaming like an elephant, and she will be spending her days and nights, months and years to come, with other elephants, rather than with exploiters and abusers. Above all, Nosey will have choice, one of the many fundamental rights that were stolen from her during her decades as Liebel’s slave. The Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary is a true heaven on earth for her and will be for the rest of her elephant days.

Read the Court’s ruling here.

Help other elephants here.





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