WEST SPRINGFIELD -- A beloved elephant passes away suddenly.
“We are devastated. It’s truly a tragedy,” said Sheryl Becker, Director of Western Mass Animal Rights Advocates.
During a bustling Connecticut day at the Big E, the elephant pen remains empty. Beulah the elephant passed away at the age of 54 due to natural causes. Asian Elephants like Beulah could live to be about 60-years-old in the wild.
Beulah is owned by the Commerford Zoo in Goshen, Connecticut. She was supposed to be on display for the duration of the 17-Day fair
Big E President Gene Cassidy said in a statement:
“We are broken-hearted. If you truly loved Beulah, kindly remember her and the Commerford family in your thoughts and prayers. They have lost a loved one.”
For long-time Big E goers like Luis Torres, it’s a sad sight to see. His son loved visiting the elephants.
“He liked it. He enjoyed it. It seems like everyone enjoyed it,” said Torres.
Beulah was pulled from the exhibit recently. Guests from over the weekend noticed Beulah looking lethargic.
“She was obviously in poor health. It was pretty visible,” said Becker.
Becker and the WMARA have been concerned about the treatment of all of the animals at the Big E for years. They have been protesting the animal exhibits provided by the Commerford Zoo.
An attorney claiming to represent Beulah says that two of the three elephants owned by the Commerford's have passed away.
It is with deep sorrow and outrage that we have learned our elephant client Beulah has died after collapsing multiple times at the Big E fair in West Springfield, MA. Because of businesses like the Commerford Zoo and the Big E, she never had a chance to live. Under threat of a bullhook, the Commerford Zoo stole from Beulah her freedom and anything resembling a natural existence for an elephant. Prior to her appearance at the Big E, Beulah hadn't been seen for almost a year, only to be subjected to one final round of forced labor, her suffering apparent to anyone who truly cares about elephants and doesn't have a vested interest in exploiting them as the Commerford Zoo and Big E do.Beulah, as well as the two other Commerford elephants, Karen and Minnie, can be made to live this way because elephants are still considered "things" with no rights: a legal anachronism we are urging the Connecticut courts to remedy. Sadly, we have reason to believe Karen has also died while in the custody of the Commerford Zoo and have today sent a letter to the Commerford Zoo demanding that they confirm within 48 hours whether she is alive or dead. Our fight to secure recognition of our elephants clients' right to liberty and their release to a sanctuary will continue, in Beulah's name and in the names of all the elephants before her who have found freedom only in death. We will announce next week further actions we are taking, including in the Connecticut courts, to secure justice for Minnie and, we hope, for Karen as well if she is still alive.
“This is the first year that they haven’t been using the elephants for rides. We were thinking that this was a step in the right direction. Maybe they’re actually listening to all the complaints,” said Becker.
A change.org petition started by the WMARA to end the use of wild animals at the fair has nearly 132,000 signatures.
“I feel like that it should just be eliminated from it because honestly there’s a lot of other chances for kids to go out and see animals and I feel like the Big E is it one of the options for it,” said Kiara Kelly.
In another statement, the Big E calls Beulah a beloved member of their family. They hope her many fans remember her fondly.
The WMARA will be out the next two weekends protesting the use of the animals in the wake of Beulah’s passing.