Meghan Brooks Staff Writer
Recently, The Eastern States Exhibition, more commonly known as The Big E, has been facing a lot of front page news as it deals with accusations from people about animal abuse. On Sept. 25, a video went viral of an animal handler “abusing” a twelve-year-old camel named Lurch at the popular fair. This camel, used for rides, was seen lying down on the ground in what some people say was “an exhausted state.”
The handler soon came over with a bucket of food, and started to rouse Lurch. When he was not responding to the handlers attempt to make him stand up, the video showed the handler yanking and pulling on Lurches lead. This sparked an uprising, and lead to a comparison of the 2014 issue of The Big E’s elephant ride, and the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA’s) call to action. The problem in 2014 was PETA wanting the Big E to drop all animals from their attractions, primarily the elephant rides, because animals should not be used to entertain people.
Big E president and CEO, Eugene Cassidy, stated they do not plan on stopping their 102-year-old tradition of having animals as part of The Big E. After the video from Sept. 25 surfaced, people spoke out about the treatment of Lurch. Some agreeing that the camel ride should be taken down and the handler punished, while others simply stated that camels are stubborn anyways. Many people on social media agree that these rides need to be shut down. One person stated on Facebook, “abusement is not amusement.”
Animals are not here to entertain human beings and be used as rides for us to use. These animals should be in sanctuaries enjoying their life. Recently, a petition has been circling the internet calling out The Big E to end the use of animal acts. Over 85,000 people have signed it and the number grows every day.
Another argument facing The Big E is the animals and their handlers figuring out what counts as animal abuse. The Humane Society says, “animal cruelty can be either deliberate abuse or simply the failure to take care of an animal.” However, is it really abuse when a handler must be forceful on an animal that is stubborn, broody and not listening? Animal activist extremist groups like PETA may agree and say yes, while other people may say no.
As a handler, their job is to ensure the animal is cared for by proper feeding, bathing, and cleansing of the animal’s habitat all while ensuring the people around the animal are safe. The concern facing this assessment is that someone walking by with a cellphone records a moment where a handler must use a little more force than normal or what the bystander feels is appropriate, and abuse is called.
All in all, be it the elephant rides in 2014 or the camel rides in 2018, The Big E has a lot on its hands. Until The Big E comes to an agreement with animal rights activists and their attractions, these issues will keep arising.