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Privacy Policy for the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) PAWS assures unambiguously that: (1) PAWS will not trade, share or sell a donor’s personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations. (2) In special circumstances, PAWS will only share personal information once the donor has given PAWS specific permission to do so.

Since 1984, The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has been at the forefront of efforts to rescue and provide appropriate, humane sanctuary for animals who have been the victims of the exotic and performing animal trades. PAWS investigates reports of abused performing and exotic animals, documents cruelty and assists in investigations and prosecutions by regulatory agencies to alleviate the suffering of captive wildlife.



The five elephant habitats at ARK 2000 provide the elephants with hundreds of acres of varied natural terrain to roam, lakes and pools to bathe in, and elephant barns equipped with heated stalls and a indoor therapy pool.
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The Countdown Begins. . .


Please Save The Date

Starting at midnight on May 4th, PAWS will once again be participating in the Sacramento, California, region's Big Day of Giving. This 24-hour online giving challenge is a program of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation's initiative to grow local philanthropy, shine a spotlight on the work of nonprofits in our area, and help participating organizations raise much-needed funds. Last year PAWS' was thrilled to receive more than $32,000 in donations during the 24-hour event!

Mark this day on your calendar now! We will continue to update you as we get closer to this important event. Watch for special email alerts and be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

May the 4th be with you!


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PAWS Welcomes

Eight New Tigers to ARK 2000

In January we reported on the arrival at ARK 2000 of the first four of eight tigers coming to PAWS from a defunct roadside zoo (read story here). We are happy to report that the remaining four tigers arrived safely at PAWS in February and are settling in nicely. It was extremely gratifying to watch as they stepped out of their transport cages and onto the lush green grass of their new habitat. The "Colorado Eight" now have a peaceful, lifetime home at PAWS.

Meet the "Colorado Eight"

Marin, 18-year-old female

Pharaoh, 14-year-old male

Sawyer, 9-year-old female

Bigelow, Nimmo and Wilhelm, 6-year-old brothers

Morris, 5-year-old male

Rosemary Arnot, 5-year-old female


We urgently need your support for these tigers because some of them will require spay and neuter surgery and others arrived with chronic health conditions that must be treated. Your contribution for the "Colorado Eight" will provide them with a healthy diet and lifetime, expert care at PAWS. To make a donation, click here. To "adopt" one of the Colorado Eight tigers, visit our tiger adoption page here.


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Above: Mara by the African lake at ARK 2000.


Spotlight on African Elephant Mara

Like all elephants, Mara has a story to tell. Hers began in Africa, where she was born around 1980. She lived with her extended family, as baby elephants do, doted on by loving aunts and older female siblings. Her mother would have been fiercely protective, as Mara explored the rich and complex natural world that was her home.

Then disaster struck. Mara's mother was killed in a cull - the unconscionable government slaughter of elephants to reduce the size of a population. Mara surely saw her mother and other family members executed. The traumatized two-year-old calf was captured as part of the operation and sent to the Catskill Game Farm in New York. There she was sold to a European animal dealer who also happened to own the Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California, where he sent Mara. The lone elephant at the zoo, Mara "entertained" visitors during the day. But behind the scenes, she was immobilized in chains and trained with a bullhook.

It didn't take long before Mara's life was to change again. The zoo threatened to sell her to a circus in Mexico, but a kindly group called "Friends of Mara" took up her cause, determined to stop the transfer. Fortunately, a very generous mother and daughter donated the funds needed to purchase Mara from the zoo. (This family is still helping Mara and PAWS all these years later, and we cannot thank them enough for their support!) Friends of Mara sent the young elephant to Florida where she lived with 80 other imported elephant orphans on a 600-acre estate owned by Nautilus exercise machine inventor Arthur Jones. After a few years, Jones began selling all the elephants, and Mara was yet again slated for sale to a circus.

That's when PAWS co-founders Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby stepped in. They had previously rescued a sickly baby elephant named "71" from the same Florida estate. When they heard about Mara's fate, they alerted Friends of Mara and quickly moved to rescue her from a life of misery in the circus. Ed Stewart enlisted the help of a local truck driver and the two men headed out on the 6,000-mile, round-trip journey to Florida to pick up the young elephant and bring her back to PAWS. Mara (shown above with 71, circa 1993) arrived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in January 1990, and shared a habitat with 71. The two remained companions until 71's death in 2008.

Today, Mara is known for her mischievous spirit, athleticism, high energy, and love of large, leafy branches that she skillfully removes from the sanctuary's trees. She has come a long way from her real home and family in Africa - a life we can never give back to her. What we can do is give her and all of our elephants the best life possible in captivity, for the entirety of their lives.

As elephants have a natural life span of 65-70 years (though their lives in captivity are often tragically cut short due to decades spent in unnatural conditions), it takes real commitment to care for them. We are proud that we have been able to provide our elephants with stability, a spacious and enriching natural environment, and a life of peace and dignity. And it is you, our readers and donors, who make it all possible. Thank you.


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PAWS' co-founder, the late Pat Derby, and African elephant 71, walking through the hills at ARK 2000. Pat and Ed rescued 71 in 1986; she was PAWS' founding elephant. 71 died in 2008 - read about her here.

Pat Derby: A Life Dedicated

to Protecting Captive Wildlife

Pat Derby, co-founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, was a champion for captive wild and exotic animals, particularly those used in “entertainment.” Working side by side with her partner, current PAWS’ president and co-founder Ed Stewart, they set a new standard of care for captive wildlife, including establishing the first elephant sanctuary in the U.S. Sadly, Pat lost a long battle with cancer and passed away on February 15, 2013. But her spirit continues to live in PAWS’ rescue, sanctuary, and advocacy work.

Taking Action for Performing Wild Animals

In the 1960s and 70s, Pat was best known for her work as an animal trainer on Hollywood film and television productions, including “Gunsmoke”, “Lassie”, “Daktari”, and “Flipper.” She was the trainer for cougars Chauncey and Christopher, who graced the Lincoln Mercury “Sign of the Cat” ad campaign, and were the most recognized advertising symbols in the country at the time. Behind the scenes, Pat witnessed the pervasive neglect and abuse of performing wild animals and decided to take action. She wrote a tell-all book, The Lady and Her Tiger, exposing the inhumane treatment and calling for better standards of animal care and handling. The book went on to win an American Library Association Award and was a Book of the Month Club selection. With this bold action, Pat became the first to champion the cause of performing wild animals – and later campaigned for those in circuses and other “entertainment” – and inspired modern animal protection organizations to take up this important cause.

The Performing Animal Welfare Society is Born

Pat met Ed Stewart in 1976, and the two spent the next few years promoting The Lady & Her Tiger with television appearances on the “Today Show”, the “Tonight Show”, “The Merv Griffin Show” and other national media outlets. They also toured extensively, educating people about the serious welfare problems suffered by performing animals. In 1984 Pat and Ed established the Performing Animal Welfare Society to formalize their captive wildlife protection work. Their first effort was to create standards for the care of captive wildlife in California, which they achieved that same year with the enactment of Assembly Bill 1620. They also began investigating, protesting and exposing the abuse of wild animals in circuses. In 1986, Pat and Ed established their first sanctuary in Galt, California, to care for abused and abandoned captive wildlife. Today, under Ed’s leadership, PAWS operates three sanctuaries in California for captive wild and exotic animals, including the 2,300-acre ARK 2000 natural habitat refuge in San Andreas that is home to elephants, big cats and bears. It is the only accredited sanctuary in the country to house male elephants.

Leadership in Animal Care and Advocacy

Pat remained an outspoken advocate for captive wild animals until the end. As a recognized expert on the care of captive wildlife, she testified twice before Congress on efforts to end the use of elephants in traveling shows. She also served on several state committees to set standards for the care and handling of captive wildlife, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director’s Advisory Committee on the Humane Care and Treatment of Wild Animals, a position now filled by Ed.

Pat’s Legacy for the Animals

Pat’s bravery and vision for a better life for captive wildlife helped lay the groundwork for the profound changes we are seeing today, including the public’s increasing rejection of the use of wild animals in entertainment, whether elephants and tigers in circuses or orcas in marine parks, and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus coming to an end. Her battle against the use of cruel elephhant bullhooks has resulted in statewide bans in California and Rhode Island, with PAWS playing an integral role in their passage.

Pat remains an inspiration to everyone at PAWS and to the greater animal protection community. Her determination and fighting spirit continue to drive PAWS’ efforts to create a more just and humane world for captive wild animals, each and every day.

Read Ed Stewart's 2013 tribute to Pat Derby here.

The following videos were created in honor of Pat Derby and shown during the PAWS 30th Anniversary Gala and the International Captive Wildlife Conference in November 2014.

The early years. (click on the picture to play video.)

It had to begin with elephants. (click on the picture to play video.)


At PAWS Sanctuaries rescued animals live in peaceful, natural habitats, free from fear, chains, and harsh confinement. They are at complete liberty to act out natural behaviors in the comfort of their individually designed enclosures. PAWS' animals are not bred, traded, sold, rented or forced to perform in any way. PAWS educates the entertainment industry, public officials and the general public in humane care and treatment of captive wildlife.

Through our public awareness campaigns, more and more actively concerned individuals are becoming aware of the problems inherent in the breeding of wildlife in captivity and the use of animals in entertainment. Learn More »





PAWS Celebrates Opening of

The Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center

PAWS recently celebrated the opening of the newly completed Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center, named in honor of the late PAWS co-founder. The facility will allow on-site diagnosis and treatment of animals, sparing them the stress of transport to a specialty veterinary facility. Guests at this special, invitation-only event included many of the generous donors who helped make this dream a reality, as well as veterinarians and medical professionals.

Read more here >>>


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Elephant Maggie Has Another

Appointment With The Dentist

The care and welfare of the animals at PAWS is our number one priority. This includes the important work of maintaining dental health. In April 2016, African elephant Maggie underwent a mammoth procedure to address an impacted molar tooth that was causing problems. PAWS' Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Jackie Gai organized and led a team of more than 25 experienced elephant care experts - including nine veterinarians, a dentist, three registered veterinary technicians, and PAWS elephant care staff - to safely accomplish the procedure. Maggie slept peacefully under general anesthesia (see photo below) as part of her impacted tooth was successfully removed, however, a portion of the tooth proved to be too difficult to extract. During the course of the procedure we also made the unfortunate discovery that two other molars were not positioned properly and would need future work.

Maggie's professional care-giving staff, led by Elephant Manager Brian Busta, were instrumental in ensuring Maggie's comfort and well-being before, during and after the procedure. Maggie recovered well and got right back to her active, busy lifestyle. Her dental problems, although significant, have so far had no effect on her appetite or ability to chew. She enjoys spending long days traversing the rolling hills of the African elephant habitat, grazing on lush green Spring grass, mud bathing, and exploring her environment with her close friends Lulu and Toka.

Plans are currently underway for a second anesthetized procedure to attempt extraction of the impacted tooth and to trim areas of her other teeth that are growing abnormally. Many of the same veterinarians, dentists, and staff will again work together to make things as safe, efficient, and effective as possible for Maggie. Elephant anesthesia is inherently risky and challenging, and is only performed when absolutely necessary for the health and welfare of an elephant. We are extremely grateful to have the assistance of some of the most experienced professionals in the world to help Maggie.

Click here to read Dr. Gai's article, Maggie Undergoes Major Dental Procedure, which was published in our May 2016 newsletter. The article discusses current theory about why so many captive elephants are affected by dental disease.


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Wayward Emu Finds a

Home With PAWS

In late December, residents of the California foothill community of Valley Springs began reporting sightings of an emu running loose in their town. An emu is a large bird, second in size to an ostrich. On a rainy morning in early January, after more than a week of roaming through local neighborhoods, yards and pastures, Calaveras County Animal Services (CCAS) received word that the big bird had wandered into an enclosed maintenance yard near New Hogan Lake. Finally, there was a chance to catch the swift-footed emu.

PAWS' veterinarian Dr. Jackie Gai was contacted for assistance in case tranquilization was required during the capture. It took six people - four staff members from CCAS and two park rangers - nearly three hours to finally corral the emu into a smaller, enclosed area where CCAS staff were able to gently herd the bird into a horse trailer. No tranquilizers were necessary.

Local media picked up the story, and despite numerous news reports no owner came forward to claim the bird. Click here to watch ABC10's report, "Emu Alert! Big bird loose in Valley Springs."

Dr. Gai visited the emu at the CCAS shelter where she treated the bird for worms. It soon became clear that the emu was female because she began making contented, deep drumming vocalizations and presented clumps of grass (a courtship display) to Dr. Gai during her visit. After the mandatory holding time had passed, and no owner had come forward, PAWS agreed to provide a home for the bird at our Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge in Herald, California. "Georgette", as she is now called, arrived at the refuge in late January (watch video below), comfortably and safely transported in a horse trailer by Henning Schreiber, Animal Services Manager for Calaveras County.

Georgette now lives with a flock of 10 emus (watch PAWS' video below) and four Simitar Horned Oryx at the Amanda Blake refuge. She is cared for by a dedicated PAWS staff and now has safety, companionship and room to roam in a very large enclosed pasture area filled with trees, grass, natural vegetation, covered shelters and a winding creek. Welcome, Georgette!

Watch PAWS' video about Georgette here>>>


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Above: Alexander, black leopard


PAWS' Animal Habitats Designed

to Encourage Natural Behaviors

Every animal living at a PAWS sanctuary receives expert care tailored specifically to the individual's needs and preferences. This comprehensive approach to animal care incorporates a broad spectrum of factors intended to promote physical and emotional health and overall well-being. Habitats at PAWS' 2,300-acre ARK 2000 sanctuary are thoughtfully designed and constructed to give animals room to roam and include elements that encourage them to express their natural instincts like digging, climbing, swimming, and foraging for food.

Wild leopards will often climb trees to find a safe place to rest and when not in trees they are experts at hiding in tall grass where they stalk their prey. Though PAWS' black leopard Alexander was born in captivity, like most captive wild animals he is genetically hard-wired with the instincts of a wild leopard. Alexander's habitat at ARK 2000 includes a majestic oak and many pine trees, but one of his favorite places to spend his days is resting high up on a specially-designed platform where he can watch birds and observe all of the activities of the sanctuary.

When Alexander moved into his new habitat at ARK 2000 in 2013, he explored every inch of it and seemed especially excited about a tall platform with big logs leaning against it. From atop this elevated perch, he can alternate between taking comfortable naps and gazing at the world below. When watchful keepers noticed that an area of the platform was beginning to wear down and needed replacement, they put the word out and PAWS volunteer Joey Harvey stepped up to make repairs and build a beautiful new ramp for Alexander. Joey has generously given his time and talents over the past several years to construct a number of elevated wooden platforms for PAWS' lions and tigers, which the animals truly enjoy.

Confiscated from a private home in Texas after injuring a child, Alexander was 11 months old when he arrived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in 1998. He lived in Galt for 13 years, and although he was comfortable, it was the dream of PAWS' co-founder, the late Pat Derby, to give Alex a special place to live: a much larger, tree-filled habitat that he could explore and enjoy. Pat's dream was made possible by an incredibly generous donor, and in 2013 Alexander moved from Galt to his new home at ARK 2000. Click here to watch the video of his move.

PAWS is forever grateful for the support of our donors and volunteers, whose dedication to the animals greatly enhances the quality of care that we strive to provide. Heartfelt thanks to Audrey Steele Burnand and family for donating the funds to build Alexander's habitat, and to Joey Harvey for building the new ramp for Alexander.

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Thank you March Amazon

"Wish List" Donors

Margaret Demany: one 30 lb. bag of Blue Buffalo for the bears; one bottle of CosequinDS, 132 for our older tigers, lion and bears; six Probiocin oral gels for the tigers. Carole Bognar: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Joel Reiff: one 20 lb. box of oranges for the elephants. Jeff: Five Probiocin oral gels for the tigers; one 48-pk of AA batteries; one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium for the elephants. Joyce Hodel: one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60# for our smaller animals with kidney problems; one 32 oz. bottle of Wheat Germ Oil; one gallon Red Cell supplement; one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coast for the elephants; one case of Hammermill copy paper. Anonymous Gifts: one case of copy paper for the Galt office; one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium; one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coat.


View wish list items that are needed, but not included on our Amazon list here.

Performing Animal Welfare Society
PO Box 849, Galt, CA 95632

(209) 745-2606 Office/Sanctuary
(209) 745-1809 fax

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