Beulah the elephant was deathly ill for 10 years but still forced to perform.

On the day she died, witnesses say that Beulah the aging Asian elephant collapsed three times at a Massachusetts fair. Each time, her handlers with the traveling Commerford Zoo allegedly forced her back on her feet to please the crowd. By the end of the night, she was gone, after being forced to entertain with the roadside zoo for 46 years. Even worse, officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) knew she was being neglected and abused to death — but due to legal restrictions, they were powerless to help her.

Approximately 3,000 of these types of roadside zoos exist throughout the U.S. The wildlife captive at these facilities are protected somewhat by the federal Animal Welfare Act, but the protections are grossly insufficient. For example, this law stipulates that roadside zoos must provide “adequate veterinary care” but it doesn’t go too much further than that. In fact, it is still legally acceptable for zoos to cart around ill or injured animals and push them to perform.

This was the case with Beulah: she had been sick for 10 years with tumors and infections in her uterus, which ultimately poisoned her bloodstream, yet was still hauled around as a performance creature during that whole time. Her Commerford Zoo companion elephant, Karen, died the same year as Beulah, likely from kidney failure. Karen was only 38 years old. Beulah and Karen deserved better. Let’s make sure all other captive animals get the care they deserve. Sign the petition to tell the U.S. Congress to update the Animal Welfare Act! Lawmakers must give the USDA the power to remove animals from abusive roadside zoos and send them to reputable sanctuaries instead.

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