USDA Citation Confirms PETA’s Case: State Fair Must Nix Cruel Elephant Exhibitor

Commerford Petting Zoo Slated to Give Elephant Rides to Kids Despite Being Cited for Inadequate Vet Care

For Immediate Release:
June 20, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

East Rutherford, N.J. – PETA is urging the State Fair Meadowlands to leave notorious animal exhibitor R.W. Commerford & Sons Traveling Petting Zoo out of its event after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited the cruel outfit in May for failing to provide an elephant named Beulah with adequate veterinary care for overgrown cuticles. Routine foot care is imperative for captive elephants—who frequently suffer from painful toenail cracks, abscesses, bruising, and infections caused by standing on hard concrete for long periods—since foot and joint problems are the leading reasons they must be euthanized.

PETA also gave the fair’s managing director documentation of Commerford’s long history of animal-welfare violations, but she is still refusing to cut ties with the exhibitor.

“The public is increasingly realizing that sensitive elephants suffer from physical ailments and psychological trauma when they’re chained on concrete, hauled around in trailers, and forced to give rides for hours on end,” says PETA Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA is calling on State Fair Meadowlands to protect animals and fairgoers by dropping the elephant rides and pledging to feature only animal-free acts in the future.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that the USDA has cited Commerford for numerous animal-welfare violations, including public endangerment, improper feeding, failure to maintain enclosures and transport trailers, and failure to provide adequate veterinary care. Minnie, an elephant frequently used by the exhibitor for rides, has been involved in at least four dangerous incidents causing injury—three involving children. In one incident, an employee reportedly provoked her by striking her in the face.

PETA’s correspondence with the State Fair Meadowlands is available upon request. For more information, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind