Elephant at center of ‘personhood’ legal fight dies at Big E in Springfield

Beulah had also prompted movement to ban exotic animals at Topsfield Fair.

Channel 5's Shayna Seymour presented a birthday cake to Beulah at the Topsfield Fair in 2014. Beulah passed away at the Big E in Springfield this week.
Channel 5's Shayna Seymour presented a birthday cake to Beulah at the Topsfield Fair in 2014. Beulah passed away at The Big E in Springfield this week. –File

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — An elephant at the center of a legal effort to give animals “personhood” has died.

Catherine Pappas, a spokeswoman for the Eastern States Exposition, better known as The Big E, on Wednesday confirmed the death of Beulah at age 54. Beulah had been on display at the fair.

Andre Bell, spokesman for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, tells WWLP-TV the death was reported to the agency. The cause is unknown.

Beulah was owned by Connecticut-based Commerford Zoo. Also a regular at the Topsfield Fair, Beulah inspired a movement to ban the use of exotic animals for entertainment within Topsfield town limits. That initiative was approved by Topsfield’s town meeting last spring, Wicked Local reported.

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The Nonhuman Rights Project had asked the courts to grant the animals the same rights as humans, saying they were mistreated and belonged in a sanctuary.

The Connecticut Appellate Court last month upheld a lower court’s decision denying the elephants personhood. The decision has been appealed.

A spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling on the zoo to retire its animals.