GOSHEN — The Humane Society of the United States is calling on the R.W. Commerford & Sons Traveling Petting Zoo to release its last surviving elephant, Minnie, to an accredited sanctuary.
The organization made the statement Monday, after news reports in the wake of the death of Beulah the elephant at the Big E last week revealed that a second Commerford elephant, Karen, died in March. One elephant, Minnie, remains in Commerford’s custody.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States nd CEO of Humane Society International, released a statement that says:“Karen and Beulah were forced to work to the very last of their days. We appeal to Commerford to end exhibitions of cruelty and give Minnie the chance to live out the remainder of her life in dignity and peace, free of coercion, free of discomfort and stress in being repeatedly moved, and free from overwork.
“Wild animal performing acts are being met with unprecedented disapproval worldwide,” Block said in the statement.
“This should prompt Commerford, the Big E and other exhibitors to take stock of the moral failure involved in forcing wild animals to entertain us, at great cost to their own health, safety and well-being. It should also motivate legislators in Connecticut, Massachusetts and other states to take swift action to protect these animals. No animal should suffer to entertain humans,” Block said.
In multiple suits, the Nonhuman Rights Project has sought a writ of habeas corpus to move the elephants to a wildlife sanctuary. It argues that, considering the elephant’s cognitive abilities and sense of self, the animals should be considered autonomous beings and thus legal persons who cannot be detained under the law.
It has not yet received such a writ. Connecticut judges have dismissed the group’s cases to date.
The Nonhuman Rights Project also vowed to continue its legal efforts after Beulah, died at the Big E last week.
Tim Commerford, co-owner of the Commerford Zoo, has previously described the elephants as members of the family and said they are appropriately cared for.
“If I don’t see them on a daily basis, I’m thinking about them, because I grew up with them all my life,” he has said. “They’re family. The animal activists can say what they want about it, but they’re part of our family.”
In a release, the Big E reported that Beulah the elephant died of natural causes.