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Elephant at center of Morgan Co. festival controversy confiscated

Posted at 11:05 AM, Nov 13, 2017

PARAGON, Ind. -- The elephant at the center of a controversy in Morgan County, Indiana earlier this year has been confiscated by animal control officers in Alabama.

Nosey the Elephant was part of the Paragon Homecoming Festival in September. The exhibit featured the elephant, which adults and children could ride.

Nosey's owner, Hugo Tomi Liebel, has a history of abuse. There are dozens of USDA violations tied to him, according to PETA. 

Nosey was confiscated in Alabama by animal control officers on Wednesday, November 8 and taken to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee on Thursday.  She will stay there until a court makes a final ruling on her status. Nosey is being kept separate from the other elephants while her medical needs are evaluated, according to the sanctuary.

Liebel has been traveling around the country with Nosey. Her trailer is so small, she barely has room to move.

"For over 30 years she's been doing this," said Jo Ellen Smith, an animal rights activist. "She's been held in captivity, transported in this small box truck with very little ventilation."

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When RTV6 talked to Liebel in September, he denied any wrongdoing. 

"Of course some activists will tell you whatever you want to hear," he said. "Some people will tell you lies."

In June, the state of Florida denied Liebel's application to renew his captive wildlife permit, blocking him from keeping Nosey in the state. 

The Elephant Sanctuary was developed specifically for endangered elephants.

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