Big E Festival Visitor Reports Limping, Suffering Animals

PETA Urges Families to Stay Away, Calls On Federal and Local Authorities to Inspect and Remove Ailing Animals From Exhibition

For Immediate Release:
September 29, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

West Springfield, Mass.

According to a report from a visitor to The Big E festival on September 27, elephants there had potentially painful ailments, including a deep toenail injury and lameness indicative of arthritis; a kangaroo appeared to have difficulty moving; and a macaw was confined to a cramped cage and unable to fly. In response, PETA sent letters this morning calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Massachusetts SPCA to inspect the festival and remove any injured or sick animals from exhibition.

“Limping and apparently suffering animals are on display at The Big E,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA is urging families to stay away from this cruel event and calling on the authorities to intervene on these animals’ behalf.”

Captive elephants used by traveling exhibitors spend much of their lives chained on concrete and other hard surfaces, leading to nail injuries, gait abnormalities, arthritis, and other painful conditions. Foot problems and arthritis are the leading reasons why captive elephants are euthanized.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that some of the animals are exhibited by R.W. Commerford & Sons, which has been responsible for at least three incidents in which an agitated elephant lashed out at handlers during rides, resulting in injuries to handlers and the public. In one incident, a Commerford employee reportedly provoked an elephant who was giving rides by striking her in the face.

Another elephant exhibitor at the fair, Carson & Barnes Circus, was recently cited for failing to provide an elephant with a painfully stiff gait with adequate veterinary care. The company was also ordered to pay $16,000 to settle a federal administrative lawsuit filed after three elephants escaped and ran amok. Carson & Barnes’ elephant handler at The Big E this week is Tim Frisco, who was caught on camera viciously striking elephants and electro-shocking them.

PETA’s letters are available upon request. For more information, please visit

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