Minnie, an Asian elephant held captive by R.W. Commerford & Sons in Goshen, Connecticut, lives alone. Her companions Beulah and Karen passed away in 2019 leaving Minnie as the sole elephant living in a dismal barn on the Commerford property.
Since 1976, Minnie has been forced to appear in weddings, films, circuses, and as a photo opportunity for paying customers. She is also used to give rides, despite the fact that she has a history of behavior that puts both employees and the public at risk. Minnie has been deprived of her ability to lead a normal, natural life appropriate to her species.
In 2018, CompassionWorks International documented an appearance by Minnie at The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts. We found pronounced swelling in her jaw and an abnormality in her gait that could indicate a spinal deformity or injury in her neck. These issues were formally reported on October 31, 2018 to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Despite compelling video and photographic evidence, they failed to do an inspection of Minnie until more than four months
later. Similar examples of inaction by the USDA to respond to formal complaints have resulted in the deaths of elephants prior to the needed and requested welfare check, as was the case for the deceased elephant Anna Louise.
CWI calls on the newly reinstalled U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to strengthen enforcement of the AWA and to take immediate action for lone elephant Minnie. The USDA has cited Commerford & Sons more than 50 times for failing to adhere to the minimum standards required by the AWA. How many more citations and deaths need occur before the USDA takes action? It is time to respond appropriately to repeat offenders by revoking exhibitor licenses and removing animals from their possession.
For her physical, emotional, and psychological health, solitary Minnie must no longer be used as a money-making prop by Commerford & Sons and sent immediately to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee or to PAW’s ARK 2000 facility in California where she can receive expert veterinary care and the company of other elephants. Both sanctuaries have offered a home for Minnie at no charge to Commerford.
We encourage everyone who cares about ending circus cruelty to peacefully protest every animal-abusing circus performance that appears in your region and to work to create local law prohibiting the exhibition and performance of traveling exotic animals. We are available to help and support your efforts.
Please sign our petition asking the USDA to take action for Minnie and to send her to a reputable sanctuary. Learn more about previous violations and dangerous incidents involving animals owned by the Commerford & Sons.
For up-to-date information on protests, please visit our Protest Dates page. To let us know of any updates to the information on this page or to report a circus set to perform in your area, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.