Elephant Ride Shanty Town Busted Up In Moulton; Animals Seized
image by Dusty Grimes
The now infamous elephant ride shanty town that sprang up last weekend in Cullman at the Rent-A-Center parking lot on Main Avenue SW relocated itself to Moulton.
On Tuesday (11/7), this haggard, vagrant inhabited shanty town reconvened along the 200 block of County Road 246 in Moulton.
This location was forced on the group due to an apparent motor vehicle breakdown.
Kimberly Carpenter, the Animal Control Officer for Lawrence County, received multiple complaints from area residents about the single small elephant named Nosey (a national poster animal for circus abuse) and the four miniature horses last seen in Cullman.
Carpenter’s job is to investigate abuse and neglect of animals in Lawrence County.
Officer Carpenter paid a visit to broken down, roadside, elephant ride shanty town just off Highway 157. She found the elephant chained by her legs, unable to move, standing in her own feces, without adequate food, water or shelter according to a ‘Complaint For Writ of Seizure’ drawn up by Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney Errek P. Jett.
Carpenter determined that elephant and miniature horses were being transported in undersized cargo trailers that were ‘out of compliance and in no way sufficient for the transport of these animals.’
The Complaint also noted what we reported last weekend: The operator of this discredited Liebling Circus troupe was operating with a revoked Florida animal license.
Also, during the investigation, Carpenter found these individuals and animals to be traveling without proper insurance which ADA Jett believed posed a severe public safety concern.
The conclusion of the District Attorney’s Complaint indicated that the Defendants were clearly ‘unable to adequately provide for the animals.
The defendants in the Writ were:
• Hugo Tomi Liebel
• Franciszka A. Lebel Rebisz
• Great American Family Circus
• John Doe (believed to potentially be Carl • Freeman)
• One Elephant
• Four Miniature Ponies
The conclusion of the Complaint was that the animals were being neglected and subject t0 further harm unless they were removed from the location immediately.
Lawrence County District Judge Angela D. Terry acted with lightning speed on the matter.
On Wednesday, November 8th, she issued a ‘Writ of Seizure’ commanding Animal Control Officer Kimberly Carpenter ‘to seize and take possession of the above-described property (animals).
She was further remanded to ‘make arrangements as necessary for the housing and care of the above reference animals pending a further hearing.
A three-hour long hearing occurred late Thursday afternoon.
Carpenter proceeded as ordered (with the back up of the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office). The animals were seized and taken away from the roadside confinement area.
Perhaps not surprising to Cullman residents who encountered these shanty town carnies firsthand at Rent-A-Center and the Civic Center, the Liebling cast of characters got verbally abusive with authorities from Lawrence County.
The animals remained in the custody of Lawrence County Animal Control until Thursday night. At that time, a crew from the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN arrived with an appropriately sized trailer capable of hauling the 3-ton pachyderm.
Animal rights activists rejoiced about this turn of event nationally. One group – One Green Plant – wrote this:
“Since 1997, Nosey has been beaten, chained, and denied of veterinary care, forced to perform shows and give people rides. Experts say poor Nosey is suffering from arthritis and lameness, related to her captivity. Also, she heartbreakingly hasn’t made contact with another elephant. To make matters worse, according to animal rights organization, PETA, Nosey’s captor, Hugo Liebel has been cited nearly 200 times for animal welfare violations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
But now, Nosey will soon be moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, the most extensive elephant sanctuary in the U.S., after the Lawrence County District Court in Alabama issued a seizure order on Nosey’s behalf!
We are thrilled Nosey will finally be able to relax and recuperate at the Elephant Sanctuary!”
image by Elephant Sanctuary
The Elephant Sanctuary has just provided this press release upon the arrival of ‘Nosey’:
“African elephant Nosey arrived safely at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee late Thursday night after she was confiscated in Alabama by Lawrence County animal control officers on Wednesday, November 8.
The Sanctuary will be a temporary refuge for Nosey until the court makes a final ruling.
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 for her health, and individual needs are evaluated.
We applaud all those who have worked so tirelessly on Nosey’s behalf. The Sanctuary Staff is committed to providing the highest standard of care for Nosey during her time at The Elephant Sanctuary.
Nosey was born in Zimbabwe in 1982. She was captured from the wild in 1984 and sent to Ocala, Florida and then in 1986 was transferred to David Meeks of the Meeks Company in South Carolina. She was purchased by Hugo Liebel in 1988 and has been traveling with the Liebel Family Circus ever since.
The Elephant Sanctuary is the nation’s largest natural-habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered elephants. Located on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, TN, 85 miles southwest of Nashville. It exists to provide captive elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd and the opportunity to live out their lives in a haven dedicated to their well-being and to raise public awareness of the complex need of elephants in captivity and the crisis elephants face in the wild.”
image by Decatur Daily
So, for now, the endangered elephant is in good hands.
We do not have official word on the status of the four small horses; we believe they are still in the possession of the Lawrence County Animal Control.
As for the human members of the Lebling group, they no longer have the animal assets to profit from humans paying money to ride these alleged abused and neglected animals.
It is unknown if these individuals remain as vagrants in Moulton, or if they have moved on to find living accommodation elsewhere.