Our elephant clients deserve so much more than this
Litigation - Article Series from All-Creatures.org Articles Archive

FROM

Kevin Schneider, The Nonhuman Rights Project
June 2018

We argue that one of the things Connecticut judges most value is the equality of autonomy. They believe, and we believe, it’s an important part of their job to protect autonomy.

elephant ride
Minnie - Image from ADI Animal Defenders International

The legal system can be painfully slow, but the NhRP always fights for our nonhuman animal clients to have their case fully and fairly litigated as quickly as possible.

That is why, this afternoon in Rockville, Connecticut, we filed a second petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of elephants Beulah, Karen, and Minnie, held in captivity at a traveling circus based in Goshen, Connecticut, and forced to perform for human entertainment for decades throughout the Northeast.

That is Minnie in the photo above. Like Beulah, Karen, and all other elephants, she is an autonomous being. We are urging the Connecticut Superior Court, Tolland County—which has extensive experience and expertise in habeas corpus cases—to consider the injustice of classifying our elephant clients as rightless “things” and, ultimately, to order their transfer to Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary, where their right to bodily liberty will be respected.

As NhRP President Steven M. Wise told the Connecticut Law Tribune today, “We argue that one of the things Connecticut judges most value is the equality of autonomy. They believe, and we believe, it’s an important part of their job to protect autonomy.”

Submitted with this petition is an affidavit by Mark A. Dubois, a Connecticut attorney and expert in legal ethics and professional responsibility who served as Connecticut's Chief Disciplinary Counsel for nearly a decade and has taught law and lawyers' ethics at Yale Law School, the University of Connecticut School of Law, and Quinnipiac University School of Law. In his affidavit, Dubois states that the NhRP’s case “is not frivolous, in whole or in part” and urges the Court to allow the NhRP’s case to proceed.

In December, Judge James Bentivegna of the Connecticut Superior Court, Litchfield County refused to issue a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to the NhRP’s first petition on the grounds that the NhRP lacked standing and its case was “frivolous on its face as a matter of law.” That decision is being appealed to the Appellate Court of Connecticut.

Learn more on our blog, where we detail why we filed this second petition and link to our court filings, which I encourage you to read and share.

The Commerford Zoo has controlled and exploited Beulah, Karen, and Minnie for decades. They deserve so much more, beginning with the freedom to roam under blue skies, across a grassy expanse, with other elephants and no bullhooks, transport trailers, circus tents, or stadium parking lots in sight.

As always, we will keep you posted. Thank you for reading and for your support, and please keep on rumbling for rights with us on social media!

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