R.W. Commerford & Sons Traveling Petting Zoo

Victory: Elephant Minnie Skips the Long Island Fair!

Following formal complaints to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) alleging the Commerford Family Zoo's violation of New York state permits mandating that "Animals must be exhibited, held, transported, and housed in a manner which prevents direct contact with the public at all times" and a year of petitioning Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and the Long Island Fair, long suffering Minnie did not make her usual appearance at the Long Island Fair in 2016. While we have not been able to confirm the reason for Minnie's disappearing act, we are grateful she had the week off and thank everyone who called the County Executive and wrote the fair about this important matter.

Please continue to urge the Long Island Fair to ensure neither Commerford nor any other exotic animal act returns in any form. Then contact Suffolk County Community College Dean James Keane and urge him to ensure neither Commerford, nor any exotic animals, are allowed to return to the Long Island Fun Fest on the Michael J. Grant campus in May. Greenhouse in New York City and the Oyster Bay Oyster Festival have already agreed to leave Commerford out of their future events after hearing from people like you.


Far from wholesome family fun, R.W. Commerford & Sons has been cited by the USDA numerous times for failure to provide animals with adequate veterinary care, failure to maintain enclosures and transport trailers, failure to have an attendant present during periods of public contact, improper feeding, and poor housekeeping. 

Minnie, an elephant who performed in direct contact with small children for years at the Long Island Fair, has been involved in at least four dangerous incidents, three of which involved children. In March of 2006, Minnie seriously injured two Commerford employees while giving rides at the Best Western Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts. As children were being loaded onto the elephant, she became agitated and suddenly swung her head toward the two employees, shifting her weight and pinning them against the loading ramp. An eyewitness reported that one of the employees had provoked the elephant by striking her in the face. One man sustained an injury to his chest and the other a broken arm. Both were taken by ambulance to the hospital. Two bystanders sustained bruises.

Despite claims of teaching using "positive reinforcement," Bob Commerford testified before a Connecticut state legislative committee in opposition to proposed bill 6599, which sought to eliminate the mistreatment of captive elephants by banning the use of bullhooks, electric prods, and chains. (Pictured above: Tim Commerford prods Minnie behind the knee with a bullhook as she struggles to perform a trick at the Long Island Fair. Credit: Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION))

Additional Resources

PETA's R.W. Commerford & Sons Fact Sheet


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