Nosey’s former owner could lose exhibiting license

A photo taken in June this year shows Nosey in her habitat at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. 

Hugo Liebel, the circus operator who lost custody of Nosey the elephant after charges of neglect and animal abuse, may be facing the revocation of his exhibitor’s license according to People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

“We have just obtained records revealing that, on May 6, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiated proceedings to terminate Liebel’s federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license, following PETA’s requests that the agency do so,” PETA Media Division Manager David Perle said. 

According to government records, the USDA filed a request with the Secretary of Agriculture’s Office on July 9 for a default decision to terminate Liebel’s AWA license. 

Liebel, the owner of the Great American Family Circus of Davenport, Florida, was traveling through Lawrence County when his elephant, Nosey, was seized on Nov. 9, 2017, by Lawrence County authorities.  

Nosey was transported to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee—a non-profit organization dedicated to providing refuge for elephants retired from performance and exhibition. 

Liebel and his wife, Franciszka, were arrested on misdemeanor and animal cruelty charges following a hearing on Dec. 16, 2017. A veterinarian from the sanctuary later confirmed that Nosey was suffering from arthritis and other ailments including intestinal parasites, a urinary tract infection, and a skin infection.

On Jan. 22, 2018, District Judge Angela Terry granted custody of Nosey to Lawrence County Animal Control Officer Kimberly Carpenter. Liebel appealed the decision on Feb. 5 of the same year and was later ordered to mediation by the Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office.

“For decades, Nosey’s bones ached as she swayed back and forth on concrete and struggled to carry loads of fairgoers on her back while suffering from lameness,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA is counting the days until Hugo Liebel’s license is terminated after his years of abusing Nosey.”

Nosey remains at the sanctuary with her case still pending in Lawrence County circuit court. 

Elephant habitats at the Sanctuary are closed to the public. However, the website offers a feature called Elecam, which allows supporters and interested individuals a glimpse into Nosey’s habitat. 

For more updates on Nosey and more information concerning The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, visit

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.