Target: United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
Goal: Deny renewed permits to the Liebel Family Circus and remove all animals
A Florida family circus repeatedly cited for neglect and inhumane conditions has not yet been shut down, despite continued negligence and mistreatment of animals. Petition the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to shut down the circus, and demand protection for these animals before they suffer further abuse.
Of the animals that live in the menagerie, Nosey the elephant is among the most urgent cases. Kept alone and isolated—tantamount to mental torture for such a naturally social animal—Nosey has suffered from untreated medical issues, including a painful foot injury. Hugo Liebel, the owner of the menagerie, was reportedly cited for repeated neglect and denial of veterinary care to Nosey. She was also abused, reportedly by use of electric shocks, and at one point injured an employee of the circus. She has been kept chained, intimidated by use of a bullhook, staked down by all four legs, and beaten with various implements, including a shovel. This is obvious and horrific abuse, yet Liebel has retained custody of Nosey and she continues to suffer.
Other animals were noted to be living in filthy conditions, or suffering from neglect. Liebel was also fined for failing to follow adequate safety measures for the public. Given Nosey’s previous attack on an employee, she is dangerous to the public, but barriers between her and viewers were found to be inadequate.
Liebel settled in court regarding a total of 33 violations, and though it is encouraging to see him brought to answer for negligence, it is not enough. The animals remain in the menagerie despite the blatant violations of basic welfare and a history of neglect. It is unconscionable to leave Nosey and the other animals in this man’s possession when he has clearly demonstrated a lack of care, and has been known to abuse and neglect them . The animals should be removed from this circus and placed in sanctuaries, and Hugo Liebel must face justice for his actions.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
The Liebel Family Circus in Florida has been cited for numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including abuse and mistreatment of animals. Perhaps most egregious is the cruelty toward Nosey, the lone elephant, who has reportedly been beaten, neglected, and kept alone for decades despite the deep social needs of elephants. She has been cruelly treated, confined by chains and physically abused to the extent she lashed out at an employee. Hugo Liebel has a history of medical negligence as well, and his animals have suffered for it. Yet his permits have not been revoked and the circus has not been shut down.
I demand that the USDA take action and protect these animals from further abuse and mistreatment. They must be removed, and given to sanctuaries that can properly care for them, and Hugo Liebel must also face penalties beyond fines. The USDA cannot condone animal abuse, and the circus is responsible for years of welfare violations. It is time to step in, and take action for the welfare of every animal in the Liebel Family Circus.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Vinoth Chandar via Wikimedia Commons