Quantcast

'Saddest Elephant in the World' Wins Freedom, Care After Decades of Chains and Abuse

Animals
Elephant Sanctuary / Twitter

By Katherine Sullivan

Nosey the elephant is getting the fairytale ending she so rightfully deserves.

Last week, Lawrence County District Court Judge Terry declared that Nosey the elephant won't be returned to the people who left her chained and swaying back and forth in her own waste with urinary tract, skin and roundworm infections as well as painful osteoarthritis and signs of dehydration and malnutrition.


Our campaign for Nosey started in 2004, when a whistleblower reported that she was being routinely abused with bullhooks and electric prods. Over the years, we persuaded venues not to host performances with the suffering elephant, persuaded authorities to bar Hugo Liebel's elephant act, worked with elephant experts, engaged members of Congress and obtained celebrity support in favor of her release to an accredited sanctuary where her needs could be met properly.

We thank local authorities for initiating this course of events and everyone who worked to keep Nosey away from Liebel—the man who used chains and intimidation in order to force her to give rides for decades.

The Road to Justice Was a Long One

Prior to Nosey's seizure, Liebel had been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for nearly 200 animal welfare violations. Most of these citations were related to his mistreatment of Nosey, including repeatedly chaining her so tightly she could barely move and denying her necessary veterinary care. This cruelty had been occurring for decades.

On Nov. 8, Lawrence County District Court Judge Angela Terry issued a writ of seizure after Animal Control Officer Kimberly Carpenter—who could be described as Nosey's guardian angel—found the elephant confined to a trailer at a truck-repair shop where the Liebels were reportedly having their brakes fixed. She was standing in feces and without proper shelter. The trailer that she was confined to was so small that Nosey couldn't take a step or turn around.

On Nov. 9, Judge Terry held a hearing to determine whether the seizure should stay in place. After the hearing, she ordered animal control to "make arrangements as necessary for the housing and care" of Nosey. That night, she was transported to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

At the sanctuary, Nosey was given the care and protection she deserved all along. When she arrived, the staff was waiting for her with welcome presents: fresh produce, bamboo and banana leaves. The veterinary and husbandry teams carefully monitored her throughout the night and reported that Nosey was calm and already showing interest in her new surroundings at the lush green refuge. The Elephant Sanctuary has continued to provide updates about Nosey on its website, as well as through its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

On Dec. 15, a trial was held to determine whether the seizure should be made permanent. Key testimony came from expert witness Lydia Young, associate veterinarian at the Elephant Sanctuary. She testified that Nosey had arrived at the sanctuary showing signs of dehydration and that she had been underfed.

She also had multiple infections. Nosey was suffering from a painful urinary tract infection, a roundworm infection (caused by ingesting fecal matter) and a chronic bacterial infection from her severely dry, cracked and overgrown skin. She was stiff and sore, and her left hind leg was swollen.

The sanctuary was able to perform radiographs on the leg, which confirmed that she's suffering from osteoarthritis. According to Dr. Young, Nosey requires daily veterinary care for her conditions. Her skin will take months or years to improve, and osteoarthritis is an incurable, chronic disease that requires pain management and species-appropriate exercise.

Although the trial lasted more than 10 hours, the judge didn't rule on the case at that time.

Another victory was achieved the following day, when Liebel and his wife Franciszka were arrested and charged with cruelty to animals in relation to their treatment of Nosey.

We applaud local authorities, including ACO Carpenter and Assistant District Attorney Callie Waldrep, for standing up to cruelty and making the best possible case for this elephant. At the Elephant Sanctuary, she'll continue to receive round-the-clock veterinary care. Although Liebel's attorney has threatened to appeal, we will continue to push to keep Nosey right where she is.

Katherine Sullivan is an online content producer at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Baby orangutan and mother orang utan seen walking in Jakarta, Indonesia. Aprison Photography / Moment / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

To be a good wildlife photographer, you need an expertly trained eye. But good ears help, too.

Read More
Worker spraying toxic pesticides or insecticides on corn plantation. D-Keine / E+ / Getty Images

Poor people in developing countries are far more likely to suffer from exposure to pesticides classified as having high hazard to human health or the environment, according to new data that Unearthed analyzed.

Read More
Sponsored
Power to heat, to cool, to drive the world's industries. Renewables can supply it all. Jason Blackeye / Unsplash

By Paul Brown

Virtually all the world's demand for electricity to run transport and to heat and cool homes and offices, as well as to provide the power demanded by industry, could be met by renewable energy by mid-century.

Read More
Phthalates, a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break, affect health in many ways. Tatyana Tomsickova Photography / Moment / Getty Images

By George Citroner

  • Exposure to phthalates was associated with autism traits in boys (but not girls) between ages 3 and 4 years, according to a new study.
  • However, the risk was diminished in women who took folic acid during their pregnancy.
  • This study is the first to find that folic acid supplements provide a protective effect from phthalates.

Exposure in the womb to a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals called phthalates was associated with autism traits in boys (but not girls) between ages 3 and 4 years, according to a new study.

Read More
A coral and fish community at the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, on Aug. 28, 2018. Francois Gohier / VWPics / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Researchers released a sobering study this week showing that all of the world's coral reefs may be lost to the climate crisis by 2100.

Read More