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Review Sought in Connecticut Elephant Rights Case

By Steven Wise

The Nonhuman Rights Project has filed a motion with the Connecticut Supreme Court, requesting permission to appeal the May 2020 decision of the state’s Appellate Court denying habeas corpus relief to Minnie, the sole surviving elephant imprisoned and exploited by the Commerford Zoo traveling circus. This is the second time the NhRP has sought Connecticut Supreme Court review in a case involving Minnie.

The Commerford Zoo traveling zoo uses a bullbook to force an elephant named Minnie to perform at a fair.
The Connecticut-based Commerford Zoo traveling zoo forces an elephant named Minnie to perform. Photo: Gigi Glendinning

Our motion details how the Appellate Court’s decision—which maintains that elephants lack legal rights—violates the Connecticut law of habeas corpus and its law of standing. As we argue, its refusal to grant the NhRP standing conflicts with the Court’s seminal decision in Jackson v. Bulloch (in which a stranger was permitted to seek a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of an enslaved human being) as well as other cases.

We hope the Connecticut Supreme Court will take this opportunity to address the question of Minnie’s decades of imprisonment and lifelong rightlessness with the rigor and careful consideration it is due. Regardless, the fight for her liberty and release to a sanctuary will continue.

In September of 2019, Beulah collapsed and died at the Big E fair in West Springfield, MA as a result of blood poisoning caused by a uterine infection. Karen died of kidney disease in March of 2019. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) assisted us in confirming how and when Beulah and Karen died. 

To learn more our Connecticut elephant rights litigation, visit Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s court case timeline. To learn how you can help, visit their grassroots advocacy campaign page. 

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