Success! After 30 Years of Abuse, Nosey the Elephant is Free

We have great news for Care2 members: Nosey the elephant is free and has arrived at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee! Those of you who have been following Nosey’s story may be familiar with her sad history.

Nosey was captured 33 years ago as a one-year-old in Zimbabwe. She has been captive ever since then, unable to live in the wild, but even worse she has been a circus elephant, stuck with the notoriously cruel Liebel Family Circus for over 28 years.

The exhibitor Hugo Liebel has been cited nearly 200 times, according to PETA, for animal welfare violations. And yet, for years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) repeatedly refused to act to help Nosey.

Nosey was trained with instruments such as electric prods and bull hooks. She was also beaten, so that Liebel could force her to give rides to his customers.

Animal advocates have fought for Nosey’s release for years.

Kelly Coldewey of the group “Help Our Precious Elephants” or “H.O.P.E.”, created a Care2 petition, demanding that Nosey be released immediately. Coldewey’s petition gathered more than 138,000 signatures from Care2 activists angry that Nosey was being forced to keep giving rides even though she seemed to be in great pain.

As the Care2 petition explained: “All her life Nosey has been used for human entertainment and personal financial gain. She is all by herself without any other elephant companionship.” This is especially horrible since elephants are known to be sociable animals.

The petition continued, “She wears extremely tight ankle chains, is often without water, and is underweight. She suffers from a horrible infected skin condition and has a terrible foot condition. She lives in a small damaged and leaking trailer that is used to pull her around the country. This goes beyond abuse.”

Nosey explores the habitat at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.


On November 8, animal control officers in Lawrence County, Alabama, acting pursuant to a court order, took possession of African elephant Nosey.  The Elephant Sanctuary is providing a temporary home for Nosey until the district court in Lawrence County makes a final custody ruling.

The Sanctuary reports:

“The Sanctuary’s Veterinary and Husbandry teams greeted Nosey upon her arrival with fresh-cut produce, bamboo, and banana leaves. Staff monitored her throughout the night and reported that Nosey showed calm interest in her new surroundings.

Over the next weeks, Nosey will be kept separate from the other elephants as her health and individual needs are evaluated.”

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