WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Western Mass News continues to listen to the concerns of viewers who have expressed their frustrations over the animal attractions at the Big E.
Now PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is calling for the animal exhibits to end.
The issue has gone viral on social media, and now both PETA and a state lawmakers are saying these traveling zoos shouldn't be allowed to operate at the Big E.
It started with a photo posted on Facebook of Minnie the elephant at the Big E, then a video of a camel and both posts have been shared thousands of times.
Many have expressed their concerns and fear the animals are being mistreated and should no longer be allowed to be used for profit.
In the case of the camel who appears to be tugged by its handler, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told Western Mass News the video shows nothing illegal and the handler is not facing any violations for abuse.
There were also complaints about Minnie, the Asian elephant owned by R.M. Commerford and Sons.
The owners told Western Mass News that she is in great health and properly cared for.
On Wednesday in a letter addressed to Gene Cassidy, President and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition, PETA wrote "in light of the outcry over this disturbing photo and video footage and the cruelty associated with using wild and exotic animals for entertainment, we're urging you to end elephant and camel rides immediately and leave these and all other wild and exotic animals out of future fairs."
They went on to say that "wild animals used in traveling shows are typically separate from their mothers as babies, spend most of their lives in cages and shackles, and are forced to sleep, defecate in the same cramped space."
State Representative Angelo Puppolo has similar concerns.
"I've toured a number of facilities and went to a number of behind the scenes shows. Obviously they show you what they want you to see, but at the end of the day there's concerns. There's concerns of the bull hook, there's concerns of electrocutions and the stuff that's used with electricity," said Puppolo.
That's why he and others have introduced legislation to put an end to the traveling zoos, which would no longer allow elephants to be used.
"This bill is still in committee. I'm not sure if it'll get any action on it this year, but certainly going to refile it next year and going to continue the dialogue," Puppolo continued.
In their letter to Cassidy, PETA said, "please listen to the concerns of members of the publicincluding patrons of your fair."
Puppolo added that he and his colleagues in Boston are listening, but that people also have the option to not support these attractions by not spending their money on them.
"It's no longer cost-effective to have these elephants housed and cared for year-round. Transportation becomes a big issue, insurance, and liability is a huge issue. I think on the flip-side of that, people should be so upset with it, boycotting circuses and shows because of the elephants being in there has affected the bottom line on the other side," Puppolo noted.
Western Mass News did reach out to the Big E again on Wednesday and they said that they stand by their statement that they support these animal showcases and that without the opportunity, many would not have the chance to see these animals up close.