FACE is the ONLY non-profit in the nation dedicated solely to rescuing elephants held in captivity in North America. FACE is dedicated to getting elephants to sanctuaries accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. GFAS is the gold standard for sanctuaries. The work FACE does is vital in getting captive elephants to the sanctuaries ready and waiting to receive them.

Sanctuary Federation


FACE began our advocacy in 2014.  We saw an elephant in need and her name was Nosey. Nosey the elephant endured more than three decades of neglect and abuse from her former owner before FACE helped bring her freedom to true sanctuary. We built our membership and rallied thousands of advocates from across the nation on our social media page to take action aimed at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and it’s failure to appropriately enforce minimal standards of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) on Nosey’s behalf.  For more than 3 years we tracked Nosey from town to town, taking legal actions causing venues to cancel her performances and drawing attention to the public with awareness and education across the world.  We sent a very detailed, 400 page complaint to the USDA, which resulted in the announcemet by the USDA to revoke the license of the owners of Nosey.  Consequently, they lost their USDA license to own Nosey and to ever have another elephant.  Another victory was that this owner also lost his permit to have an elephant on his property in Florida due to investigations into Polk County regulations. The loss of their permit was before the loss of their USDA license.  These victories all added up to the demise of The Liebel Family Circus. 

The icing on the cake was that fateful stop in a small town in rural Alabama.  

Nosey’s road to freedom was sealed when Alabama animal advocates, with their boots on the ground, and with the assistance of Free All Captive Elephants directors, caught up with Nosey in Moulton, Alabama November of 2017. She was seized by Alabama law enforcement authorities and quickly transported to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (EST). As a result of the efforts of Free All Captive Elephants (FACE), Nosey is now safely roaming and thriving in freedom at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (EST). This entire story as it unfolded, wich was a total nail-biter, will be told in BROKEN – The Documentary.  FACE along with Mike Deeson, a 12-time Emmy Award winning investigative journalist, are in production of this eye opening film.  Stay tuned for updates to BROKEN on our Campaign tab and on our Facebook page, Free All Captive Elephants – FACE.

Once assured that Nosey was safe and secure in her free new found freedom in sanctuary, the focus of FACE’S mission broadened to bring freedom to ALL elephants suffering in captivity in circuses and roadside zoos in North America.  It has been a remarkable journey and we will always keep Nosey close to our hearts as she was the inspiration that propelled us to where we are today. 

In order to expand our reach and impact, FACE registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in Florida. 

The name Free All Captive Elephants (FACE) is in line with our mission to free ALL captive elephants who are living in inhumane conditions now that Nosey is safe at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. It has been a remarkable journey and we will always keep Nosey close to our hearts as she was the inspiration that propelled us to where we are today. Not long after our nonprofit was formed, and largely due to our efforts, in November, 2017, Nosey was seized by Alabama officials and taken to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee where she is thriving. 


Our mission Is to provide education, intervention, and litigation that will lead to sanctuary for ALL elephants inhumanly held in captivity in circuses and zoos in North America.

Where will these elephants go? Currently there are two sanctuaries accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS).
Sanctuary Federation in the USA, The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in California and The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (EST). Captive elephants cannot be reintroduced into the wild and while sanctuaries are still a form of captivity, GFAS accredited sanctuaries have thousands of acres and provide independence and autonomy for former captive circus and zoo elephants. These sanctuaries offer a place where elephants can be FREE to roam, FREE to eat, FREE to interact with their own species, FREE to rest and FREE to be left alone if they so choose. While no environment can truly replicate life in the wild, GFAS sanctuaries can and do offer elephants who were slaves to the human entertainment industry or inhumanly held captive in zoos, the opportunity to live out the rest of their lives in an environment that is as close to the wild as possible with minimal human contact.


 On December 14th, 2018 FACE along with former Senator of New Jersey, Raymond Lesniak, were victorious in getting Nosey’s Law passed, making New Jersey the first state in the U.S. to ban all wild and exotic animals in traveling animal acts.  Several other states have followed suit and others have bills pending. FACE directors were there from the beginning in Trenton, New Jersey to testify in front of both the House and Senate Committees.  FACE was there for every vote presented along the way in Trenton, NJ.  We took vital action to support Nosey’s Law by making phone calls, sending emails, knocking on legislator’s doors and rallying constituents in New Jersey to do the same.  Legislation is KEY to make laws that will bring the right change to STOP circus suffering of animals across the whole world.  It starts locally and grows nationally.  FACE directors that directly worked alongside of Senator Raymond Lesniak and the Lesniak Institute 

Nosey’s Law started it all as the FIRST state and TEAPSPA is next.  

FACE now works beside Animal Defenders International (ADI) to support TEAPSPA, HR2863 / S2121   http://www.federalcircusbill.org/. This pending federal law woud ban all traveling exotic animal acts nationwide.  On May 21, 2019, Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ) reintroduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA, HR2863), to amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling performances. On July 15, 2019, a companion bill, S2121, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) and cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). FACE works with government officials to imporve conditions for elephats in captivity and to get them to sanctuary.  FACE representatives were there on Capitol Hill knocking on doors to garner support for this federal bill.  

FACE’s advocacy directly lead to the seizure of Nosey and her placement in Sanctuary. In a small town in rural Alabama, Nosey was spotted on the side of the road giving rides.  A local advocate notified a FACE administrator after finding information about Nosey on a google search.  From there the ball started rolling to get Nosey FREE and on her way to true sanctuary.  It was a miracle in the way it all happened.  The right people in the right place at the RIGHT TIME.  We are forever grateful to those incredible ladies that took action for Nosey and that they notified FACE administrators that could help guide them in the right direction to get it done.  Because of all of that action, Nosey is FREE.  This is all we ever hoped for and it happened. 

Free All Captive Elephants was honored at The Lesniak Institute for American Leadership’s anual gala in October of 2019.  Because of our work with the Lesniak Institute and our advocacy, we were named as one of two recipients. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=free+all+captive+elephants+&view=detail&mid=BC8FE18E7B83E443F64DBC8FE18E7B83E443F64D&FORM=VIRE  




There are approximately 400 elephants in North America. Our vision is to ultimately see that ALL elephants in North America currently living in inhumane conditions are brought to GFAS sanctuaries to live out the rest of their lives. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel for circuses. With the passage of TEAPSPA by the United States Congress, this will become a reality. As more and more elephants are released and/or seized, FACE is committed to helping ensure that additional GFAS sanctuaries are built to provide these elephants with a forever home.

ABOVE, the urine and feces soaked floor of Nosey’s trailer. Just before her seizure by authorities, Nosey was placed into her trailer by one of her owners where she would be forced to stand for more than 30 hours straight.. Nosey stood with little ventilation or light in her own excrement in a cargo trailer where she was unable to raise her head or make normal postural movements. Hours later her owners would be charged with animal cruelty. Those charges are still pending.
ABOVE shows how Nosey was found alone by by a local animal control officer. She was chained by both front and hind legs standing in her own waste. . Hours later, she would be taken to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee where she would receive much needed veterinary care by EST’s team of experts for a variety of ailments including a severe bacterial infection, a nearly empty stomach, dehydration, urinary tract infection, muscle atrophy, and severe arthritis. To this day, Nosey continues to thrive at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.



The closing of the infamous Ringling Brothers Circus in 2017 did not mark the end of cruelty perpetrated on elephants forced into captivity. Between 25-30 traveling circuses with caged, wild animals continue to travel and operate in the U.S.. Currently there are over 60 elephants (and hundreds of other animals) still being used for human entertainment. Circus animal cruelty and exploitation is rampant.

Traveling wild animal performances are an antiquated form of animal abuse that has been going on for centuries. In circuses, elephants are forced to perform under threat of punishment, confined in cramped enclosures as they are hauled from venue to venue.

Performing elephants are deprived of all that is natural to them.

To train a wild animal into submission, methods used include beating, electric shock (hot shots), food and water deprivation and brutal intimidation. Elephants do not stand on their heads, sit on stools or stand on their hind legs or give rides to humans on their backs because they want to. They do it because they are forced to with brutal training methods. These behaviors do NOT occur in the wild. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ulw7RtZoao

Photo of Betty: by Gigi Glendinning
Photo of Betty: by Gigi Glendinning
Above is Nosey standing in her cramped trailer while on the road going from one circus show to another. This was her life just as are many elephants just like her forced to perform in traveling circuses.
The lack of exercise, constant confinement in cages, small enclosures required to transport elephants thousands of miles in extreme temperatures to perform 300 days a year is detrimental to both their physical and psychological well being. There is no scenario where the needs of these complex creatures can be met by a life on the road.  The research is clear on this.

The laws in place to protect elephants are weak and very rarely enforced.  Law enforcement authorities are not equipped or trained to handle the thousands of public complaints that are filed annually against exhibitors. Additionally, because of the transient nature of “circus life”, even if they are willing, government agencies are unable to enforce the laws. Many if not all circuses currently on the road, have extensive histories of Federal Animal Welfare Violations.  Agency’s inaction makes them complicit in the violations. As a result, captive elephants continue to suffer EVERY day while these agencies are not doing their jobs.


Asha – A solitary elephant at The Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia
No matter how expensive, “beautiful” or “natural looking” a zoo exhibit appears to be, the reality is many zoos cannot provide the environmental enrichment that comes close to an elephant’s life in the wild. This is especially true for solitary elephants.  Many zoos do NOT have the best interest of the elephants at heart(elephant facts).
Many people think that,  “Zoos save endangered animals.”  The truth is, elephant breeding programs do not work!  The elephant species cannot be saved through captive breeding. It is a fact that captive elephants in both circuses and zoos die at a younger age than elephants in the wild and do not procreate well in captivity.  We encourage you to read this recent and very insightful article. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/09/magazine/elephants-zoos-swazi-17.html
Another school of thought says… “Zoos are educational.” This is false. NO education is taking place in zoos like the Natural Bridge Zoo. These roadside attractions perpetuate the idea to children that it is acceptable to put elephants on display to satisfy human curiosity. Looking at an elephant in a zoo such as Asha at the Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia,  (link to Asha campaign) serves no educational purpose. Asha’s existence and behaviors at this zoo bear no resemblance to that of elephants in the wild. So nothing is learned! In the wild, Asha would be part of a complex matriarchal herd and have deep social relationships. She would exercise by freely roaming for miles each day, foraging for food. She would play and swim to cool herself down and splash mud on her back to protect her sensitive skin from the hot sun. She would never give rides to thousands of people each year and would have little to no human interaction.
A true educational approach to learning about elephants is to read the research of those who actually study elephants in their natural habitats. Suggested reading include that of researchers like:

These world renowned scientists are experts in elephant behavior. In their work, they witness, analyze and report on the extent of the intellectual and familial superiority of the elephant species.

Ideally, elephants would never be removed from the habitat in which they are born. In a family environment much like ourselves, elephants need their herd to thrive emotionally and physically. We are all keenly aware of the arrogance of humans that remove elephants from their homes and how they are ripped away from their loving family. We at FACE believe the best alternative for rescued elephants living in captivity in North America, is in a GFAS sanctuary, as they could never be returned to the wild based on their extreme brutal conditions they endure in captivity. They are BROKEN as young babies to obey their trainers. Their spirits are BROKEN. Their bodies are BROKEN. They never will know life in the wild as they deserve.