Big E, Commerford responds to outrage over elephant attraction


22News has received numerous messages through our ReportIt feature concerning the condition of two elephants at the Big E.  

The animals in question are named “Buelah” and “Minnie,” and they’ve been performing at the Big E for decades. 

Kids and adults usually go wild when they see animals up close, especially wild ones. These two elephants, however, are receiving a different reaction. 

One Facebook comment from a 22News viewer reads in part, “This is awful!! She is so tired and sick!!! She’s limping when you see her walk.”

It’s one of hundreds of comments, expressing their concern and outrage over seeing these animal attractions at the Big E.

“Such a giant misconception,” said Tim Commerford, owner of the elephants. “We don’t stuff them in the trunk and carry them all over the country and park them in the back corner of the parking lot for when we want them. It’s not like that.”

The Commerfords told 22News that these animals are highly regulated and monitored. They said prior to becoming an exhibitor, they have to receive a permit from the USDA. Not to mention, they have to be inspected by a local veterinarian. 

During a 2017 USDA inspection, Commerford was cited for “Beulah’s” cuticles being too long and jagged. 

The Commerfords own about 300 animals, including 3 elephants.  Once the animals get too old to perform, they retire. 

Some animal activists, like PETA, want to see these wild animals, stay in the wild. 

“In this day in age where everything is so virtual, this is the last opportunity for really people to enjoy the real thing,” said Gene Cassidy, president of the Big E. “So its our responsibility to bring that to as many people as possible.”

Cassidy told 22News animals will remain a part of the Eastern States Exposition fabric forever. 

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