NORTH WEBSTER, Ind. (WANE) – Animal safety activists are outraged by a performing elephant at this year’s Mermaid Festival in North Webster, Kosciusko County. While they believe Nosey the Elephant is being abused, her owner says she is healthy and happy.
About 15 protesters from Save Nosey Now have stood outside the Mermaid Festival each night to let the public know that Nosey is an exotic animal being abused and exploited.
“It’s a living creature,” said Silas Hunter, one of the protesters. “It’s not just a machine. It’s not like the merry-go-round or the Ferris wheel. It breathes the same air and it wasn’t put on the earth for us for our enjoyment. Sure it’s a beautiful creature and we can look at it and gaze at it’s amazing looks and everything, but to be riding it and to treat it the way it’s treated is just wrong.”
The president of the Lions Club, who organizes the Mermaid Festival, said they have not seen any mistreatment.
“We didn’t know there was, what do you want to call it, a controversy over him,” said President Mark Lawson. “We didn’t know anything about it. I’ve called probably 19 people back that left their number. They understood our position.”
The festival has been running for 72 years.
“We’re just a small, little group of people trying to do something for the town of North Webster and the community,” Lawson said. “This is the first time that we’ve really had what you’d call a controversy – and I hate the heck out of that.”
Great American Family Circus is the company that has brought Nosey to the Mermaid Festival. Its’ Circus Mom, Franciszka Liebel, said they treat Nosey well.
“My elephant is healthy and, in my opinion, happy because I know elephants,” she said. “I’ve been around this particular elephant for about 30 years. I think I know when she’s happy. I think I know when she needs something or when she would be sick.”
She said their company saved Nosey’s life when she was a baby. Her whole family had been poached in Africa. Nosey was one of the few survivors when Great American Family Circus adopted her.
“You can all have your opinion, but that does not mean that I am wrong or that my elephant is sick,” she said. “I’ve been with this elephant for almost 30 years. We do what we do. We’re happy to do that. Right now I truly believe this elephant is the ambassador in the United States against poaching that takes place in Africa.”
The Mermaid Festival runs June 21-24. The protest group, Action for Nosey Now, plans to be there each night.