A 54 year old Asian Elephant, known as Beulah who was scheduled to appear at The Big E for a 17 day run, has died.

Fair officials made the announcement Wednesday claiming that the elephant, owned by Connecticut based company, R.W. Commerford and Sons, died of natural causes at age 54. According to the World Wildlife Federation, elephants in the wild have a life span about 60 years. Beulah was supposed to be the featured elephant at the fair, but shortly after her arrival in West Springfield, she was removed.

According to Sheryl Becker, founder and director of the Western Mass. Animal Rights Advocates (WMARA), there have been reports that Beulah was ill at the fair and collapsed.  The group has demonstrated outside The Big E gates throughout the fair, to protest the exploitation of live animals, particularly at R.W. Commerford Petting Zoo.

According to WFSB Eyewitness News 3 in Springfield, PETA released a statement on Wednesday.

Beulah should have been left to enjoy family, home, and freedom in the wild—but instead, R.W. Commerford & Sons put her in chains and made money off her until the day she died. Her death should be a wake-up call, and PETA is calling on Commerford to give its remaining elephants the desperately needed retirement that Beulah never got—and on The Big E to end its exploitative wild-animal exhibits.

Official PETA Statement

The President of The Big E also released a statement, asing for the public’s understanding and compassion during this difficult time.

We are broken hearted.  If you truly loved Beulah, kindly remember her and the Commerford family in your thoughts and prayers.  They have lost a loved one.

Gene Cassidy, Eastern States Exposition president