WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – New answers to questions surrounding the death of an elephant at the Big E.

In an interview you’ll only see on 22News, Eastern States Exposition President Gene Cassidy told the 22News I-Team, 54-year-old Beulah died Sunday after suffering a heart attack.

TAMARA: Do you guys regret having an elephant that old come here?
CASSIDY: Absolutely not.

Beulah’s presence at the Big E has caused outrage among animal rights groups, many of them posting pictures on social media, suggesting she looked sick and mistreated.

Cassidy told the 22News I-Team, Beulah lived years past her life expectancy, because her owners, the R.W. Commerford Zoo, took good care of her.

He said she has lived a good life at their zoo in Connecticut, and described her a social animal who loved being around people. “Those who suggest there’s not compassion, they’re wrong. She has been in the same family for her entire life, and they take impeccable care of their animals, all of their animals.”

The 22News I-Team learned there have been several lawsuits against the Commerford’s over the years, the most recent filed in Torrington Superior Court back in 2017.

The Nonhuman Rights Project sued the company, arguing that their three elephants are legal “persons” with fundamental rights, and must be released into a sanctuary.

The organization told the court the elephants were used for decades in forms of entertainment, like circuses and fairs.

The lawsuit was eventually dismissed by a judge.

Several animal rights groups including PETA and the Humane Society, have all released statements, calling for companies like R.W. Commerford Zoo to stop bringing exotic animals to fairs.

Cassidy said despite the backlash, he believes Beulah lived a good life, and has no regrets on making her a main attraction at the Big E. “For as long as I have this job, I will try to bring elephants to people.”


“We are heartbroken. We have lost a member of our family. Beulah was 54, the matriarch of our family. We are grateful she was with us as long as she was. She died of natural causes, according to a necropsy.

Beulah loved her treats and loved to be part of the group. She was a very social animal – she loved interacting with people.

She was most happy when she was here at The Big E with us, greeting people.

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. We appreciate your kind words and thoughts.”

Timothy “Tim Commerford, Commerford’s Petting Zoo

PHOTOS: Beulah the Elephant

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