Circus owner says allegations of animal mistreatment are all false

MOULTON, Ala. – According  to Hugo Liebel, he has had Nosey the elephant for more than 25 years. Nosey is part of The Great American Family Circus, based out of Florida.

"The elephant does rides and she performs in the circus," Liebel explained. He said Nosey and his four ponies were on their way to do another show in Gadsden when they started having trouble with their brakes. That is when Liebel decided to make a stop at Diesel Repair in Moulton to try to get them fixed.

It didn't take long before word got out about an elephant in Lawrence County.

Many people came to visit Nosey, including a Lawrence County animal control officer who didn't like what she saw. "This lady just say we don't have no insurance, the elephant is standing in her poop and she's not attended to. She mentioned like four or five different things, but they are all false," Liebel explained.

Lawrence County later issued a writ of seizure, which temporarily put the animals in the custody of the animal control officer who filed the report.

"The judge's order is just a temporary order, just like a temporary injunction. We will have a hearing in two, three, or four weeks about whether this seizure is permanent or the judge will order that the animals be released," Liebel's Attorney Allen Stoner explained.

Nosey has been taken to an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. "My clients the Liebels disagree with that, but the judge's order is silent about where the animals can be taken," Stoner said.

News of Nosey hit social media in a matter of minutes after the judge's ruling. Animal rights groups like PETA  said they have been following Nosey for a while. PETA claims Hugo Liebel has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for nearly 200 animal welfare violations.

Liebel denied those violations but did admit in court that Nosey had issues with her skin. He added that he was in the process of helping her get better.

WHNT News 19 will continue to follow this story.