Nosey the elephant and Lolita the orca, longtime symbols of the cruelty of animals in entertainment, have also also become symbols of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) failure to enforce the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
Lolita being used as a surfboard; arthritic Nosey gives rides to unsuspecting children
After years of protests, petitions and lawsuits, activists nationwide are now using a viral video to demand that the USDA liberate Lolita and Nosey on the grounds that the harsh conditions of their captivity violate the AWA.
Nosey, a 30-year old elephant who was captured in Zimbabwe when she was two, has been held captive by the Liebel Family Circus since 1988. In spite of her crippling arthritis and chronic skin disease, Nosey is forced to give rides to paying customers at flea markets and fairs across the country.
Under threat of bullhook, Nosey is forced to give rides in spite of her eye infection and arthritis
Advocates claim that the circus owner, Tom Liebel, and his employees have beaten Nosey into submission with bullhooks, a sledge hammer and shovels and that the USDA has cited Liebel nearly 200 times for violations. In spite of the violations, abundant evidence of abuse and a veterinary report stating that Nosey is “suffering, permanently disabled and crippled,” the USDA has refused to revoke Liebel’s license to exhibit Nosey and use her for rides.
Violation of AWA
Lolita, an orca who was captured off the coast of Washington in 1970, has been held captive in the nation’s smallest whale tank for 45 years. Until 1980, she had an orca companion, Hugo, who reportedly committed suicide by pounding his head against the side of the tank. For the past 35 years, she has been alone, unable to interact with members of her own species or engage in any natural behaviors, such as hunting, diving and swimming in the open water. Her tank is just 20 feet deep.
Lolita’s captivity at the Miami Seaquarium is not just cruel; it is illegal. Palace Entertainment is violating the AWA in three ways: Lolita’s tank doesn’t meet minimum size requirements; she has no shade to protect her from the sun; and she does not have a killer whale companion.
Lolita is longer than the tank is deep.
In February, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) designated Lolita as endangered because she was taken from the protected Southern Resident Killer Whale population. This historic decision has provided legal ammunition to the groups that have sued the USDA for renewing Palace’s license in spite of its AWA violations. If the court rules in favor of the advocacy groups, then Lolita could be released to the Puget Sound where she would be rehabilitated in a coastal sanctuary and, if possible, released to her pod. Lolita’s mother, 86, is reported to be alive.
Robin Jewell, the producer of the historic Miracle March for Lolita in January, created a video with advocates around the country asking the USDA to enforce the Animal Welfare Act. Please hold the USDA accountable for its failure to protect Lolita and Nosey by helping to make this video go viral.
Temperatures reach a scorching 104 degrees in Western Argentina, but that doesn’t stop the city of Mendoza from holding an arctic animal captive in its zoo. And that is only one of the reasons why Arturo the polar bear is going insane.
Polar bear Arturo is depressed and shows signs of insanity
The Mendoza Zoo in Western Argentina
For over 20 years, Arturo, who is the only polar bear in Argentina, has been confined to a small concrete pit that deprives him of the ability to do anything that comes naturally to him, including swimming in the open water, traversing the sea ice and hunting for seals. Since Pelusa, his polar bear companion, died in 2012, he has had no contact with members of his own species. His only stimulation is a shallow pool that, according to visitors, is often empty.
Arturo sits in 20″ deep pool
Arturo has been robbed of everything that makes life worth living, and he lets the zoo patrons who peer into his prison cell know it by displaying signs of depression, such as swaying, rocking and pacing.
For many years, activists have advocated to transfer Arturo to a Canadian zoo where the climate is more suitable to polar bears; where the enclosure if far superior and where he’d live with members of his own species. While captivity at Canada’s Assiniboine Park Zoo would be no substitute for freedom, it would be a major improvement for “the world’s saddest animal,” as he is often described.
Assiniboine Park Zoo’s new polar bear exhibit opened in 2014 (photo: Mike Deal, Winnipeg Free Press)
In response to a 2014 petition with 400,000 signatures demanding the the Mendoza Zoo relocate him to Canada, the Zoo’s director stated that Arturo must stay on the grounds that the journey could kill him. But captivity is killing him right now, which is why activists believe the transfer to this facility in Canada is well worth the risk:
Like Nosey the elephant and Lolita the orca, Arturo has captured the attention of activists worldwide and has become a global symbol of the barbarity of animal captivity. But, with the Mendoza Zoo refusing to transfer him, Arturo’s advocates are working to determine the best approach to helping him.
For the moment, #FreeArturo and #Storm4Arturo “tweet storms” are keeping his plight in the public consciousness. In 2014, both Cher and Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, tweeted on his behalf.
Cher tweets in support of relocating Arturo to Canada
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, tweets for Arturo
Thanks to Blackfish, the world has awakened to the plight of whales in captivity, and thousands of people are fighting to outlaw it. The “Blackfish effect” also appears to be benefitting imprisoned elephants, who, like whales, are highly social and intelligent mammals who suffer in captivity. In fact, advocates around the world are running campaigns to rescue elephants who are being held alone in horrific conditions:
TANYA IN TARGU: Tanya, a 37 year old female elephant who was captured in the wild in the 1970s, is being held captive in a desolate, indoor, concrete pit at the Targu-Mures Zoo in Romania. And she has been all alone for 20 years, in spite of the fact that the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria requires that zoos house female elephants in groups. Her mental anguish is on display in this video.
Please sign the petition demanding that the Executive Director of European Association of Zoos and Aquaria send Tanya to a sanctuary
NOSEY IN NORTH AMERICA: Nosey, a 30 year old elephant who was captured in Zimbabwe when she was two, has been held captive by the Liebel Family Circus since 1988. In spite of her crippling arthritis which is captured in this video, Nosey is forced to give rides to paying customers at flea markets and fairs across the country. Advocates claim that the circus owner, Tom Liebel, and his employees have beaten Nosey into submission with bullhooks, a sledge hammer and shovel handles and that the USDA has cited Liebel nearly 200 times for violations. In spite of the violations, abundant evidence of abuse and a veterinary report stating that Nosey is “suffering, permanently disabled and crippled,” the USDA has refused to revoke Liebel’s license to exhibit Nosey and use her for rides.
Simpon’s co-creator Sam Simon has used his fortune to liberate animals.
Please urge your member of Congress to take action for Nosey and sign the Change.org petition demanding that the USDA confiscate her and relocate her to a sanctuary. On June 26th, hundreds of activists will descend upon the USDA in Washington, D.C. to protest the agency’s reckless disregard for Nosey. Robin Jewell, the organizer of the historic Miracle March for Lolita, has announced a March for Nosey that will take place at the USDA office in Raleigh, North Carolina, on October 23rd in 2015.
MALI IN MANILA: Mali, an elephant captured in Sri Lanka who has been confined to a concrete enclosure at the Manila Zoo for over 35 years, is “so lonely that she holds her own tail,” according to Jolie Nicole Shanoian, an activist who administers the Facebook page about her plight. The Manila Zoo, which is determined to keep Mali in her small, barren pen that has no vegetation or water for bathing, insists that she would not survive the transport to the Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand, which is prepared to rescue her.
Please sign the Change.org petition demanding that the Mayor of Manila release Mali to Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary.
Liberating elephants from captive and exploitive settings is possible. In 2005, the Detroit Zoo relocated Winky and Wanda to a sanctuary (PAWS), saying “despite our best efforts, we saw the unfortunate results of them living in an unnatural physical and social environment.” In 2014, Sunder, an elephant who was severely beaten and chained for 7 years at a temple in India, was taken from his abusers as a result of a court order and transported to a sanctuary.