• Don Lichterman

Elephant in The Room, USDA To End Hugo Libel License, Bronx Zoo, Abuse Eyewitnesses, Happy & Patty

USDA has initiated proceedings to end the exhibitor license of Hugo Liebel. 

Nosey the Elephant, who gained worldwide attention after being found suffering from a variety of health conditions while under the care of owner Hugo Liebel, is living comfortably at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.


Her former owner, though, is still in court, and the U.S.D.A. has started proceedings to strip him of his Animal Welfare Act license.


The U.S.D.A. requested that Liebel’s license be terminated due to lack of adequate veterinary care, inability to provide for and transport Nosey, and neglect of the elephant. Nosey the Elephant was seized in November of 2017 and placed in The Elephant Sanctuary and custody was granted to the Animal Control Officer of Lawrence County. A report from a Sanctuary veterinarian led to Hugo Liebel and his wife being charges with cruelty to animals. This case and the custody case are still in litigation.


The U.S.D.A said that permitting Liebel to continue to hold a license would be:

Another motion by the U.S.D.A. requested a Default Decision that would terminate Liebel’s license after, according to the motion, he failed to respond to a letter from the court by a court deadline in which he was requested to show cause why his license should not be terminated.

Should Liebel’s license be terminated, he would not be allowed to get back custody Nosey the Elephant.


Urgent Opportunity to Free Bronx Zoo Elephants

Happy and Patty are the last two elephants at the Bronx Zoo, forced to live in heartbreaking social isolation. Pressure on the Zoo is now reaching a fever pitch, as politicians join the conversation about Happy and Patty's fate. Now is the time to insist that the Bronx Zoo do the right thing and send Happy and Patty to a sanctuary!


While Patty at least had the company one other elephant companion—Maxine, who was euthanized last November—Happy has been alone since 2006. The Bronx Zoo refuses to follow even the minimal requirements set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that there be at least three elephants living together. The Bronx Zoo elephants share a little over an acre of outdoor space, and are forced to take turns using this space, but only when the weather allows. Sadly, however, most of their time is spent confined indoors.


These living conditions are cruel and unnatural for the elephants. Happy and Patty are denied basic social and physical needs which are absolutely essential to elephant wellbeing. These are among the reasons the Bronx Zoo has earned a place on In Defense of Animals' Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America several times, and was the #1 Worst Zoo in 2018.


Now, prominent politicians are speaking up for these elephants. Corey Johnson, Speaker for the New York City Council, highlighted the plight of Happy and Patty in a statement released on July 7 2019, which reads:


"I urge the Bronx Zoo, which first planned to close the elephant exhibit back in 2006, to finally transfer Happy and Patty to one of two recommended sanctuaries."


In June, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Congresswoman for the Bronx & Queens, tweeted, "Thanks for bringing Happy's situation to my attention! The team and I are looking into what we can do."


Happy and Patty need all the help they can get. The Bronx Zoo is managed on behalf of New York City by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) that oversees over a billion dollars in assets.


The NYC Mayor and all five NYC Borough Presidents sit on the board of WCS and control tax dollars that are given to the Bronx Zoo. So far, they have refused to free Happy and Patty, but as more people speak out for these elephants, the more likely a sanctuary will be in their future. Click here for that list!

Elephants beaten, jabbed, and tightly chained.


Zoos, circuses, and other archaic, cruel forms of entertainment should have died out long ago—but imprisoned animals like these are still suffering today, and they need your help.

Help PETA continue to expose abuse and end animals' misery by giving right now.

Our heartbreaking exposé of a zoo in Thailand is reminding the public that animal tourism is inseparable from animal abuse.


Eyewitnesses at this hideous facility saw elephants tightly chained and forced to stand on concrete, leaving them with aching joints and foot problems. They left these prison cells only to perform tricks or give rides to tourists—all while enduring constant jabs from handlers' sharp weapons. Some elephants had bleeding wounds on their sensitive ears and temples, while others bore scars from enduring years of this violence.


And elephants weren't the only animals who suffered. Workers also struck crocodiles with bamboo poles during shows. A wailing tiger was harassed so that tourists could swarm him for photo ops. Other animals, including a chimpanzee and an orangutan who were both chained in small cages, were so depressed that they barely moved.


No animal should suffer this way. Will you support PETA's work to help them?


We're making progress to end the intense suffering that we've uncovered at zoos, circuses, and tourist sites around the world. More and more travel companies are dropping elephant rides and pseudo-sanctuaries from their itineraries, and every day, we're inspiring more compassionate tourists to avoid all animal attractions.


After PETA revealed that handlers had subjected elephants to extreme violence during last year's King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in Thailand, we helped push sponsor after sponsor to cut ties with the event—eventually leading to the demise of elephant polo throughout the country! Now, after exposing similar abuse at Nepal's Chitwan Elephant Festival—where elephants were struck and gouged with bullhooks to force them to "play football" and give rides—we're persuading global corporations to end their support for the festival.


But as long as even one animal is still being chained or bullied, we can't rest. Your much-needed support will allow us to keep moving forward.


Elephant in The Room


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Our companies are known for creating products that enhance people's lives.  Through Sunset Corporation of America and its companies, we’re equally dedicated to improving lives.   Our commitment extends to helping local communities, fostering better educational systems, supporting the arts and culture, helping disadvantaged youth, protecting and improving the environment, animal welfare, wildlife issues and encouraging employee volunteerism.


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