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NhRP to Commerford Zoo: Where are Beulah and Karen?

By Nonhuman Rights

The Nonhuman Rights Project has become deeply concerned about the health and well-being of our clients Beulah, Karen, and Minnie, three elephants imprisoned and exploited by a Connecticut-based traveling circus called the Commerford Zoo. Our most pressing concerns are for Beulah, whose last known public appearance was in October of 2018 at the Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts, and Karen, whose last known public appearance was in July of 2018 at the Meadowlands State Fair in New Jersey.

Only Minnie has been seen in public this summer—at a parade in Springfield, PA, the negative public response to which resulted in the Springfield Republican Party deciding to end its business relationship with the Commerford Zoo.

Additionally, the most recent Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) site inspection report of the Commerford Zoo’s property in Goshen indicates the presence of only one Asian elephant on a day (April 29, 2019) when the Commerford Zoo appears to have scheduled no off-site events.

Combined with the disappearance from public view of Beulah and Karen, the report raises questions we urge the Commerford Zoo to answer: (1) Where are Beulah and Karen? (2) Are Beulah and Karen alive and healthy?

We and other animal advocates will be paying close attention to who among the Commerford Zoo’s many exploited animals will be transported to the upcoming Goshen Fair in Goshen, CT and Big E in West Springfield, MA. The Commerford Zoo’s presence at last year’s Big E prompted widespread outrage among many fairgoers, who were troubled by the animals’ visibly poor health and treatment, particularly Minnie limping as she was forced to give rides and a Commerford Zoo employee yanking a camel named Lurch up from the ground.

The USDA has cited the Commerford Zoo over 50 times for failing to adhere to the minimum standards required by the Animal Welfare Act, including failing to provide the elephants with adequate veterinary care. For the past decade, numerous area residents have tried to raise awareness of the poor conditions at the Commerford Zoo and sought to prevent it from coming to their communities. Yelp reviews describe the elephants as “sedated,” “sick,” and “sad,” the facilities as “filthy” and a “stockyard of despair,” and the experience itself “an abomination.”

For Beulah, Karen, and Minnie’s sake, we hope the Commerford Zoo has used them in events far less frequently because its proprietors finally recognize how elephants suffer physically and emotionally when forced to perform and give rides under threat of a bullhook. The Commerford Zoo’s total lack of accountability for its unjust treatment of these self-aware, autonomous beings only underscores the need for recognition of their right to liberty and release to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s sanctuary, where they can begin to recover from the many traumas they have endured.

We ask anyone with information on the whereabouts and/or health and well-being of the Commerford elephants to please contact the Nonhuman Rights Project at

How you can help:

Using the hashtag #FreeTheCommerfordElephants, join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to call for the Commerford Zoo to account for the elephants’ disappearance and release them to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s elephant sanctuary.

Sign and share our petition urging the Commerford Zoo to release Beulah, Karen, and Minnie to PAWS.

Send a short, polite email to the Commerford Zoo at, urging them to release Beulah, Karen, and Minnie to PAWS.

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