End the Use of Wild Animal Acts at The Big E!

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The Big E, a 17-day event held in West Springfield, MA, is the largest fair in the northeast and the 6th largest fair in the nation.

It began as a simple agricultural fair back in 1917 and is now regarded by organizers as a "New England extravaganza". Yet the current incarnation of the fair has exploded far beyond agriculture and New England heritage.   In fact, The Big E uses wild animals acts for entertainment and such exhibits are not just inhumane, but some are even dangerous to humans.

Elephants, camels, zebras, kangaroos, and lemurs are featured in the R.W. Commerford & Sons Petting Zoo. This constantly traveling zoo contains a wide diversity of wild animals in very unnatural, cramped, and often unhealthy, conditions. Elephants, under the threat of punishment and prodded with a sharp metal instrument called a bullhook, are forced to stand around for hours for photos with Big E visitors.

The Big E contracts R.W. Commerford & Sons despite the fact that Commerford has been involved in three dangerous incidents involving the elephant Minnie, who has attacked and critically injured her handlers, including while children were riding on her. This same company has been cited by the USDA more than 50 times for violations of the minimal animal care standards required by the Animal Welfare Act.

In addition to the petting zoo, The Big E will feature a bear trailer, which contains four full-grown bears shut in cages. In the wild, bears usually roam 20-50 miles each day, yet when confined at The Big E, these animals have but feet to roam back and forth. This is inhumane and far from educational. Camels will also be exploited in Camel Kingdom, which is run by the notorious ex-Ringling animal handler Ryan Henning. While Henning claims this is an "educational" exhibit, the camels are forced to perform and give rides under threat of a whip. There is nothing "normal" or "natural" about this experience.

Please join us in letting The Big E know that wild animals have no place at an agricultural fair focused on the beauty and diversity of New England and that wild animals belong in the wild, not forced to perform or trapped in cages by those whose sole purpose is to profit off of them.