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How to Help Minnie: Monitoring the Commerford Zoo

By Courtney Fern

This summer the Commerford Zoo‚ÄĒa traveling circus based in Goshen, CT that continues to refuse to release Minnie the elephant to a sanctuary‚ÄĒresumed exhibiting at fairs across the northeast United States. We have been closely monitoring the zoo at each venue, keeping an eye out for Minnie (who has not been seen in public for over two years) and any possible violations of federal and state laws.

Elephant Minnie forced to give rides
A Commerford Zoo employee uses a bullhook to compel Minnie to give rides at a fair.

This past week, the Commerford Zoo began exhibiting animals at the New Jersey State Fair. New Jersey was the first state to ban the use of wild animals in traveling animal acts when it passed Nosey’s Law in 2018. On social media, we urged our supporters to contact the fair and ask that they not allow the Commerford Zoo to continue exhibiting there for three important reasons: 1) because they have been cited more than 50 times for violations of the Animal Welfare Act 2) because they forced the now deceased elephants Beulah and Karen to travel and give rides while ill and 3) because they are currently holding Minnie, the sole surviving elephant in their custody, alone in a barren barn on their property. Many people reached out to the fair on social media and by email to speak up for Minnie and the other animals exploited by the Commerford Zoo. 

At the same time, our friends at Animal Defenders International noticed that the Commerford Zoo had transported to the fair two animals, a zebra and an oryx, whose exhibition is prohibited under Nosey’s Law. ADI immediately notified the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, which went out to the Commerford Zoo’s exhibit at the fair to enforce the law, beginning with an investigation. We are still waiting to hear what action the agency took.

Beulah the elephant lies on her side on the edge of a parking lot the day she died at he Big E fair.
Beulah the elephant lies on her side on the edge of a parking lot the day she died at he Big E fair.

Over the next few months the Commerford Zoo has scheduled exhibitions at several fairs in different states. Three venues‚ÄĒthe Big E Fair in Massachusetts, the Goshen Fair in Connecticut, and the South Carolina State Fair in South Carolina‚ÄĒstill allow for the use of elephants in traveling acts. We are greatly concerned that the Commerford Zoo may once again force Minnie to travel in a small trailer and force her to labor at these fairs. As you may remember, Minnie‚Äôs elephant companion Beulah collapsed and died at the Big E Fair in 2019 while the Commerford Zoo was forcing her to work for their financial gain while she was suffering from a uterine infection.¬†

You can help Minnie by sending an email to the below listed fairs and ask that they not allow the Commerford Zoo to exhibit animals at their event. As sample email is:

Please do not allow the Commerford Zoo, which has been cited more than 50 times for Animal Welfare Act violations, to exhibit at your fair. They forced two of their now deceased elephants to travel and give rides while ill and are currently holding Minnie, the sole surviving elephant in their custody, alone in a barren barn on their property. National Geographic recently ran a feature story on how the zoo allowed elephants Beulah and Karen to suffer for years before they died. In 2019 Beulah collapsed and died while being exhibited at the Big E fair in Massachusetts. Please act in the best interest of the animals and your patrons and do not allow the Commerford Zoo to exhibit at your fair.

Commerford Zoo Traveling Exhibitions

The Altamont Fair | Altamont, NY | August 17th – 22nd | contact information: info@altamontfair.com

Goshen Fair | Goshen, CT | September 4th – 6th | contact information: gsociety@sbcglobal.net

The Big E Fair | West Springfield, MA | September 17th – October 3rd | contact information: info@TheBigE.com

South Carolina State Fair | Columbia, SC | October 13th Р24th | contact information: geninfo@scstatefair.org 

Thank you!

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