Food and Ag Science Will Shape Our Future
Tom Vilsack

As you are acutely aware, Nosey the elephant (a.k.a. Tiny, Dumbo, Peanut, Bubbles) has been abused as well as neglected by Hugo Liebel for 30 years. Mr. Liebel was fined $7,500.00 for nearly three dozen violations of the Animal Welfare Act which were mainly related to Nosey. All in all, the USDA has charged Mr. Liebel with over 200 citations and 30 direct violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Mr. Liebel has also allowed the public to have contact with her, which was unsupervised, even though Nosey had previously attacked a worker which caused a head injury and sent him to the hospital.

In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), elephants, for instance, can carry tuberculosis (TB) and transmit it to the public, even without direct contact.” As well, only last year the article “The Infected Elephant in the Room” by Nathalia Holt stated that “The United States is currently in the midst of an elephant tuberculosis epidemic.” Also, “there have been more than 60 confirmed cases of tuberculosis in U.S. elephants — in a population of only 446”. Furthermore, “In 2009, the first elephant-to-human transmission of TB was confirmed [that we know of]. In an outbreak in Tennessee, the bacteria were transmitted from a single elephant to NINE keepers at an animal refuge.” The article also states that animals at zoos have also contracted and/or died from TB. If animals from zoos and refuges can contract TB, what do you think the chances are that someone only coming near a circus animal could? As I stated previously, according to the CDCP, itself, elephants, for example, can carry TB and transmit it to the public, even without direct contact. This is because, when they sneeze, for instance, there are droplets that TB is carried on (in the air) that transmits the illness. Elephants who are used by circuses come into a heightened sense of peril of developing active TB infections because their health is compromised by the constant stressor of being confined while traveling inside poorly ventilated and sometimes dirty boxcars.

In addition, a few years ago, Nosey tested positive for a TB Stat-Pak Test and may be a carrier of TB. But we may never know because the USDA, in its infinite wisdom, no longer requires a TB test from elephants in animal-based entertainment. I wouldn’t want to take the chance of contracting TB, nor would I want my children to. After all of this being made known to you, why in the world would you continue to allow Nosey to travel around the country?

As well, Nosey has been showing signs of painful arthritis for over a year, and she has no business being hauled around in a cramped trailer and forced to give rides. According to a board certified veterinarian with decades of experience working with elephants, Nosey has “undergone long term suffering and abuse”.

Mr. Vilsack, why is it that after all this time and all of the problems associated with Nosey, you are not willing to do what it takes to confiscate Nosey and send her to a reputable sanctuary? That is the USDA’s job after all, is it not?


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