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NhRP Argues Judge Must Rule Promptly in Connecticut Elephant Rights Case

By Lauren Choplin

NhRP Argues Judge Must Rule Promptly in Connecticut Elephant Rights Case

Jan. 28, 2019, Torrington, CT—Today NhRP President Steven M. Wise urged Litchfield Superior Court Judge Dan Shaban to rule on our elephant clients Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s second habeas corpus petition, arguing that to delay hearing their case perpetuates the elephants’ suffering and undermines the important and long-standing immediate legal recourse of habeas corpus available to unlawfully imprisoned individuals.

With over two dozen local animal advocates in attendance and oral argument lasting 40 minutes as opposed to the 15 minutes initially allotted, Wise argued that Judge Shaban, in accordance with Connecticut habeas corpus procedure, should promptly rule on whether he will issue a writ of habeas corpus and hear the NhRP’s arguments as to why the elephants must be recognized as legal persons with the fundamental right to bodily liberty protected by the writ. Moreover, the Judge should not “stay” the case while the NhRP waits for the decision on our appeal of Connecticut Superior Judge James Bentivegna’s decision on our first petition, which itself never reached the merits (i.e. addressed the substantive issues) of their habeas corpus case.

The NhRP filed a second petition in order to prevent litigation of the elephants’ right to bodily liberty and entitlement to habeas corpus from becoming bogged down with procedural issues. In habeas corpus cases, where an individual’s freedom is at stake, the need to urgently address the substantive issues of the case is rightfully paramount.

As with our New York elephant client Happy, the NhRP argues that Beulah, Karen, and Minnie, once recognized as legal persons with the right to bodily liberty, must be ordered released from their unlawful imprisonment. The NhRP suggests their immediate transfer to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary, where their right to bodily liberty will be respected for the first time since they were taken from their families and natural habitats decades ago. Currently, they are held at a traveling circus based in Goshen called the Commerford Zoo which forces them to perform at events across the Northeast.

The NhRP now awaits Judge Shaban’s decision and will share it as soon as it is issued.

On Saturday, Feb. 1st, the NhRP, in partnership with, will host a rally and vigil for the Commerford elephants.

For biographies of Beulah, Karen, and Minnie and a complete timeline of their court case, including links to all legal documents, visit their client page.

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About the Nonhuman Rights Project
The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only civil rights organization in the United States working through litigation, legislation, and education to secure fundamental rights for nonhuman animals. For more information, visit

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