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Update on Minnie: Latest Inspection Report on Commerford Zoo

By Courtney Fern

The USDA has made public the most recent inspection report on the Commerford Zoo which shows Minnie is still being held captive at their Goshen farm. Minnie has now been imprisoned alone, without the necessary companionship of other elephants, for over two years.

Unsurprisingly, given how the USDA has essentially abdicated its duty to enforce the already insufficient Animal Welfare Act, the inspector did not find any compliance violations during the inspection. This is despite the fact that the Commerford Zoo, according to records we received earlier this year, has housed Minnie in a barren barn with concrete flooring and little natural light. She is alone. It is well known that elephants are highly social animals who suffer greatly when deprived of the companionship of other elephants. It is unthinkable that an experienced inspector could think that forcing an elephant to live in solitary confinement is acceptable. The USDA’s allowance of the Commerford Zoo housing Minnie in a way known to cause elephants psychological and physical suffering highlights the USDA’s fundamental lack of understanding about elephants.

Minnie has not been seen in public for over two years, and there have been no reported sightings of her over the past year while the Commerford Zoo has been opening its farm to the public. Last year, a GoFundMe fundraiser endorsed by the Commerford Zoo, which sought to raise $2.4 million for them, stated that the zoo was impoverished and unable to afford Minnie’s food or veterinary care.

Starting this Wednesday, the Commerford Zoo will be exhibiting animals at the South Carolina State Fair. They may bring Minnie to the fair to labor as Beulah did at the Big E fair before she died.

Please take action for Minnie by emailing the South Carolina State Fair ( to ask that they not allow the Commerford Zoo to exhibit animals at their event. A 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.

If you would like to take additional actions for Minnie, check out our most recent action and this blog.

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