Nosey the elephant has not had an easy life. Born in Zimbabwe in 1982, she was stolen from her wild family at age 2 and brought to Florida. Purchased by Hugo Liebel in 1988, she spent the next three decades with the Liebel family’s circus—an operation that (under various names) has reportedly racked up over 200 Animal Welfare Act violations involving Nosey and various other animals since 1993. One online media outlet called it “the worst animal exhibitor in the U.S.”
In October 2017, an animal control officer in Lawrence County, Alabama, went to check on Nosey. What she encountered—a solitary, sick, underfed, arthritic elephant standing in feces in a trailer too small for her to lift her head—resulted in Nosey’s removal from the circus and temporary placement in the Elephant Sanctuary in central Tennessee.
In January, a district court judge made the move permanent. Henceforth, Nosey will be able to spend her days as she pleases, in the company of her own kind, within the largest natural habitat sanctuary for elephants in the United States.