Activists from Animal Rights Advocates have been protesting several of The Big E’s exhibits for alleged animal welfare violations. The Big E is an annual event held at the Eastern States Exposition, in West Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, that begins on the second Friday after Labour Day and runs for 17 days. It is America’s Premier Exposition and US’s only multi-state fair, representing all six New England States. Some of the exhibits use animals for entertainment in different ways, which is why animal rights activists protest. The protests of this group were planned for three weekends from 17th September to 2nd October 2022.
One of the focuses of the protests was Commerford Zoo’s camel and pony rides, and the use of lemurs, Patagonian Cavies, oryx, and several other animals in their exhibit. PETA produced a leaflet with details of all alleged animal welfare violations and accidents at the Commerford Petting Zoo. For instance, in 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that Beulah, an Asian elephant, died after suffering from blood poisoning from a uterine infection while she was at an exhibit at The Big E. In 2018, Compassion Works International recorded Minnie, one of the Zoo’s elephants, “looking sickly and limping”, and one of their camels was seen in distress and unable to stand. Since 2020, The Nonhuman Rights Project has been trying to get Minnie recognised as a legal person to send her to a sanctuary. Other protests focused on the Camel Kingdom, as the group claims the shows are very demeaning and that the camels are forced to do “unnatural things”, and the “Swifty Swine” pig race, as this is frightening to the pigs.
Sheryl Becker, Western Mass Animal Rights Advocate, said, “Wild animals do not belong in this fair…It’s unnecessary to have animals in entertainment. The animal welfare act regulations are clearly not being followed. If they were, an elephant wouldn’t of died here in 2019, she wouldn’t of been allowed to be here…Wild animals are meant to be either in the wild or in sanctuaries, not in trailers.”