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MOULTON, Ala. – An elephant connected to a small family circus is going to an animal sanctuary as part of an investigation into claims of mistreatment.

Thursday night crews loaded “Nosey” the elephant on to a trailer to go to an elephant sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee.

Earlier a judge in Lawrence County ordered county officials to take control and care of the elephant and several horses connected to a small family circus.  The decision comes following allegations of mistreatment.

The order was issued after a hearing in Lawrence County, which included testimony from an elephant behavioral expert, a retired veterinarian, a Lawrence County animal control officer and the couple that owns the circus.

The company involved is the Great American Family Circus from Orlando. The owner told WHNT News 19 that they were on their way from Orlando to Gadsden for a show. He said they were hired to bring an elephant called Nosey and four horses.

The owner of the company told us they stopped in Moulton because of brake troubles and have been there for several days.

The Lawrence County District Attorney’s office told us that concerns were raised over the elephant’s condition and that animal services has come out to examine it. According to a representative from the DA’s office, the elephant has marks on its legs from where it’s been chained for some time.

An elephant rescue sanctuary in Tennessee has expressed interest in picking up the elephant.

The hearing Thursday lasted for over three hours.