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SHAMELESS: Commerford Zoo’s GoFundMe campaign claims they can’t afford care for Minnie the elephant

The Commerford Zoo is in dire financial straights. For the sake of Minnie, and the many other animals at their facility, they need to let them go to a sanctuary, and do so immediately.

LAUREN CHOPLIN: For over two years, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) has been fighting in court and alongside local activists to free Minnie, a 48-year-old wild-born Asian elephant, to one of the two accredited elephant sanctuaries in the US, both of which have offered her lifelong care at no cost to the Commerford Zoo. Recently the NhRP learned of an online fundraiser set up by the family that sold Minnie (whom they call Mignon) to the Commerford Zoo in 1976.

With the authorization of the Commerford Zoo, the GoFundMe page seeks to raise $2.4 million to enable them to meet Minnie’s most basic needs, including food and veterinary care, because COVID-19 has “impoverished the farm that supports them,” which is “in desperate need of support,” according to the fundraiser description. Created over a month ago and having raised only $1,345 to date, the fundraiser states that Minnie “has been directly affected” by the lockdowns: “When the humans cannot work, the animals suffer too”…

The NhRP sent letters to local, state, and federal agencies urging them to immediately investigate what a Goshen-based traveling circus has publicly acknowledged is its inability to provide basic care to the elephant in its custody as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns. “We were extremely worried about Minnie well before the COVID-19 crisis and are even more so now,” said Courtney Fern, the NhRP’s Director of Government Relations and Campaigns… “We understand the Commerford Zoo is in dire straights,” Fern said. “For their sake and the sake of the many animals at their facility, they need to let Minnie go to a sanctuary. It is abhorrent for them not to do so immediately”…

The NhRP finds this fundraiser especially disappointing and egregious, said Fern, because the organizers, who’ve been in touch with the NhRP multiple times since 2018, and the Commerford Zoo “all know Minnie has a place waiting for her in a sanctuary, and it would cost them nothing to do the right thing and release her.” Fern further stated: “That they now refer to the Commerfords’ property—where Minnie is controlled by a bullhook, confined most of the time to a dark, barren barn, and lacks the company of other elephants—as a sanctuary is an absurd ploy to solicit donations they wouldn’t need if they released her to an actual elephant sanctuary”…

The NhRP submitted a complaint online to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and via email to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Torrington Police Department’s Animal Control Division, all of which have a responsibility to investigate animal welfare concerns pertaining to the Commerford Zoo. SOURCE…

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