WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Beulah the Elephant from The Big E has died.
The mood at the petting zoo was a bit quieter than normal Wednesday night after the news broke. Beulah was a staple at the fair and a fan favorite for many.
“One of the things we wanted him to do in the next couple of year was go on the elephant or camel ride, but now we can’t,” said Brittany Perez of Springfield. “It’s too sad.”
Westfield resident Ally Balland said she never did the elephant ride, “No, I didn’t. I always thought that it was cruel to go on the elephant especially when it was here all day.”
Big E spokesperson Catherine Pappas released a statement saying Beulah died of natural causes at the age of 54:
“Beulah had many fans and was dearly loved by her family, as well as her friends at Eastern States Exposition. The Commerford family asked for time to grieve before the announcement was made of Beulah’s passing. She was a member of their family. Tim Commerford, age 47, has never known life without Beulah.”
Commerford, Beulah’s owner, didn’t want to talk to the media, but through a worker, he said he’d release a statement later Wednesday night.
At this point, it is unclear when the elephant died. Over the weekend, a 22News staff member saw an elephant in the petting with a sign out front that read “Beulah.” Pappas told 22News the elephant was returned to R.W. Commerford’s Farm in Goshen, Connecticut, but didn’t specify when.
In a statement to 22News, the President of The Big E, Gene Cassidy, said his team is heartbroken.
“We are broken-hearted,” Cassidy stated. “He asks for the public’s understanding and compassion during this difficult time. “If you truly loved Beulah, kindly remember her and the Commerford family in your thoughts and prayers. They have lost a loved one.”
Andre Bell, spokesman for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, sent 22News the following statement:
Beulah’s death was reported APHIS, and the cause of her death is unknown at this time.Andre Bell, USDA APHIS
There’s been some controversy each year with this farm bringing animals to the Big E. This year, the Western Massachusetts Animal Rights Advocates group continued their protests of animals at The Big E outside the fair’s gates.
“I feel like The Big E is like a family thing to do so for the elephant to pass away like that – yeah it’s really sad,” said Balland.
As of right now, no elephants are allowed in the petting zoo, just a camel and some miniature horses.