By Lindsay Kane, Andrew Masse – Western Mass News
WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – People from all over New England gathered outside of the Big E fairgrounds tonight for the International Vigil for Elephants.
The Western Mass Animal Rights Activists are honoring Beulah, the elephant that died on day three of the Big E.
Vigils were held in ten cities over the weekend to remember thirty-seven elephants that died in captivity in 2019.
Two of those elephants, Beulah and Karen, are being honored worldwide after they died in the care of the R.W. Commerford and Sons, an organization that has spent many years at the Big E.
“This cannot happen again. We won’t let it,” Sheryl Becker, president of the Western Mass Animal Rights Activists, tells us.
People from all over New England are holding candles and signs outside of the Big E fairgrounds Sunday night, making sure their voices are heard.
Vigils were held in states as far as California, Oregon, and Mexico to honor the thirty-seven elephants that died in captivity in 2019, including two that have been seen at the Big E.
“Beulah is one of them. Unfortunately, she just died right over there on September 15, so we had to participate this year,” stated Becker.
Beulah and another elephant, Karen, were owned by the R.W. Commerford and Sons.
Karene died last March and, like Beulah, spent many years at the Big E.
Animal rights activists have had multiple protests and vigils remembering both Beulah and Karen, but now they stand with people all over the nation tonight, fighting the same battle.
“It’s sad that we have to do this, but it’s really uplifting knowing people are so passionate about Beulah and elephants in general in captivity,” says Becker.
There are two bills being pushed in the state that would ban primates, elephants, big cats, and bears from being used in performances and travelling exhibits, and supporters of the bills hope change is coming.
“All animals are beings. They have feelings. They feel pain. They feel sorrow. They feel loneliness. It’s not morally right and by treating animals this way, we’re setting the wrong precedent for our children,” Montgomery resident Jo Irvine said.
Sheryl Becker, president of the Western Mass Animal Rights Activists, tells Western Mass News she believes their efforts have led to a turning point in the state.
“Nowadays, something like this just spreads like wildfire. We’re not radical extremists. We’re just people with a heart who care about those poor elephants,” added Becker.
Of the two bills in legislation now, one remains in the House and the other is in the Senate.
Neither bill applies to zoos.