Whatever happened to Nosey the elephant?

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Nosey grazes on leafy treats provided by a local historical society in this Elephant Sanctuary file photo.

HOHENWALD, Tenn. – In Nov. 2017, after a failed attempt to put on a circus performance in Cullman, The Liebling Bros. Family Circus put its elephant Nosey on display in a shopping center parking lot, letting people ride her for a fee.  After getting attention from The Tribune and others, the circus packed up and left, only to stop in Moulton, where Nosey and other animals were seized by Lawrence County Animal Control officers. Circus owners Hugo and Franciska Liebel were arrested for animal cruelty, and Nosey was sent to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee.

The Liebels’ case has still not come to trial.

In May 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) filed a request with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to terminate the Liebels’ animal exhibitor’s license issued under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), arguing that allowing them to continue holding the license would be “contrary to the Act’s purpose of ensuring humane treatment of animals.” In July, the USDA asked for a default decision against the Liebels, after the defendants failed to reply to the May complaint within a specified time limit.

The USDA’s request is currently under consideration.

Meanwhile, Nosey remains officially in the custody of Lawrence County Animal Control, but housed at The Elephant Sanctuary.

On its website, the sanctuary said about its long-term guest: “At The Sanctuary, Nosey has been an active participant in her own health care and has continued to explore her surroundings—including wallowing in the mud and downing trees. It has been a joy to observe Nosey exhibit natural behaviors in a natural habitat setting and we look forward to continuing to provide updates about her explorations. While a permanent custody decision has not been finalized by the court, The Sanctuary stands ready to provide lifetime care to Nosey.”

For more on Nosey and The Elephant Sanctuary, visit www.elephants.com.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com