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Elephant's owners plead not guilty to animal cruelty

Hugo and Franciszka Liebel have a court date in April.

Posted: Feb. 8, 2018 1:38 PM

The Florida elephant owners who face animal cruelty charges after Lawrence County authorities seized the animal last year have pleaded not guilty.

A Lawrence County judge approved a waiver of arraignment and not guilty pleas from Hugo and Franciszka Liebel Tuesday, according to court documents.

Liebel and his wife both face charges after a vehicle carrying the elephant broke down in Lawrence County in November and an animal control officer ordered the animal seized. The animal was reportedly chained and standing in her own feces without adequate food or water, authorities said.

Nosey is being cared for at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee while the court case is ongoing. The Liebels recently asked that a judge let a jury decide whether they should get custody of the animal back. The judge has not ruled on that request.

A bench trial on the animal cruelty charges has been set for April 10 in Lawrence County District Court.

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