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'Saddest Elephant in the World' Wins Freedom, Care After Decades of Chains and Abuse
By Katherine Sullivan
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.
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By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.
Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.