WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Officials at The Big E have confirmed that Beulah, the Asian elephant that spent this past weekend at the fair, has died.
The Big E said the elephant died at the age of 54 from natural causes.
Beulah's death comes after the elephant owned by R.W. Commerford and Sons was removed unexpectedly earlier this week.
This is a photo taken of Beulah over the weekend as she was an exhibit this year.
No elephant rides were being given this year, but Beulah was on display.
In video shared with Western Mass News of Beulah on Saturday at the fair, she is seen laying down, raising concerns among fairgoers who reached out to Western Mass News for answers.
We learned she was no longer at The Big E as of Monday, though no reason was given.
Last year at The Big E, there were several complaints into the treatment of the elephants.
"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," said Eastern States Exposition president and CEO Gene Cassidy in a statement.
The statement from the fair added that Beulah "had many fans and was dearly loved by her family, as well as her friends at Eastern States Exposition."
Sheryl Becker with Western Mass Animal Rights Advocates said they noticed Beulah's health was not good at The Big E over the weekend and hearing she passed away is devastating.
"Beulah hadn't been seen in over 11 months by the public. She hadn't been in public view and that really concerned us. Then we see her here and she just looked horrendous and we were just like how is she going to make it 17 days at The Big E. Even though she wasn't giving rides, she was still being forced to be at The Big E and being in such an unnatural and uncomfortable environment. Being forced to stand for long periods of time, that can be a real toll on an elephant, especially an elephant in her 50's," Becker noted.
PETA said in a statement:
"Beulah should have been left to enjoy family, home, and freedom in the wild—but instead, R.W. Commerford & Sons put her in chains and made money off her until the day she died. Her death should be a wake-up call, and PETA is calling on Commerford to give its remaining elephants the desperately needed retirement that Beulah never got—and on The Big E to end its exploitative wild-animal exhibits."
Lauren Choplin with the Nonhuman Rights Project added:
"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."
Choplin added that their group's fight for "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."
Cassidy added he asks for the public's understanding and compassion to this difficult time for the Commerford family.We did reach out to Commerford and Sons, but have not heard back yet.
In a statement from the Commerford family, they say:
"On behalf of the Commerford family, I thank all of those who, too, fell in love with Beulah. Who understood her elephant ways and personality, and how much she loved doing what she did, and each of us."
Over the weekend, the U.S.D.A. confirmed with Western Mass News that Beulah died of natural causes.