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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 provides 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.
Learn More »



Above: Misha, Canada Lynx


Misha and Rufus

Misha and Rufus are Canada lynx who are currently living at our Galt sanctuary. The brother and sister pair came from Storybook Gardens, a zoo in London, Ontario, Canada. They were retired to PAWS after the London City Council voted to reduce the size of the zoo, deciding to find new homes for all but the domestic animals. Storybook Gardens staff worked collaboratively with local animal welfare groups to find suitable homes in zoos and sanctuaries. Thanks to the help of Toronto-based Zoocheck, and the community group Friends of Captive Animals (FOCA), arrangements were made to transport the lynx to their new home at PAWS in June of 2012.

Born in May 2005, Rufus and Misha are mature adult lynx. When they first arrived at PAWS they were not timid, and seemed delighted to explore their new home. Their habitat is large and grassy, with sunny areas and plenty of shade under the trees. They enjoy each other's company and can often be found curled up together on a soft bed of straw in their den box (see photo at end of article). They are beautiful cats, with distinctive long tufts of fur on their ear tips and deep golden eyes.

Rufus (left) was born with a congenital defect of his spine, which causes him to walk with a very unusual, wobbly gait. Several of the vertebrae in his spine are deformed, pinching his spinal cord and affecting the rear half of his body. Our veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Gai, consulted with board certified veterinary neurologists at U.C. Davis, who felt that due to the severity of his deformities, surgery would not fix his problem and may even result in paralysis. Rufus receives medication to reduce inflammation in his spinal cord and to help him move more freely. Our goal is to keep Rufus comfortable and mobile for as long as possible, and to help his body keep up with his youthful spirit and energy.

Rufus does not let his disability slow him down. Every morning he makes his rounds, following the keepers as they walk alongside the enclosure delivering breakfast. He is also keenly interested in stalking the occasional bird that flies through the habitat, his fluffy, bobbed tail twitching excitedly. Misha is the more reserved of the two, preferring to perch atop a high platform, surveying all of the activities taking place in the sanctuary around her. Rufus and Misha occasionally spar and play, and they communicate with each other using a distinctive and striking vocalization unique to lynx.

PAWS' staff keep the lynx's habitat stocked with logs cut from fallen trees. Scratching on the bark keeps the cats' claws in good shape. To provide extra traction for Rufus and make it easier for him to walk, a pathway around the perimeter of the habitat is covered in special outdoor carpeting. We replace it periodically and that time is coming soon. Your donation, or a gift card from Lowe's or Home Depot, would be put to good use for this purpose. Gift cards can be sent to PAWS at P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632.


Above: Rufus and Misha curled up together in their den box.

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An Update on Arthur,

the Golf Course Bear

Arthur, one of eight black bears currently living at PAWS, was born in the wild and had been living in a culvert on a golf course in southern California before his arrival at our Galt sanctuary 13 years ago. After receiving numerous reports about a bear seen "hobbling on three legs" at the golf course, he was finally captured by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW). X-rays revealed the bear had been shot and the buck shot was embedded in his hips, too deep to be removed. Arthur was treated by veterinarians from both CDFW and U.C. Davis and transferred to PAWS on March 5, 2002. Our veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Gai, developed a treatment plan to address his pain and arthritis. At the time, Arthur's age was estimated to be around 10 years.

Today, at the estimated age of 23, Arthur is doing well and walking on all fours. He enjoys his large, specially-designed grassy habitat at our Galt sanctuary, a home that includes two pools, pine and fruit trees, and honeysuckle vines. Each day he spends hours searching through the tall grass and trees looking for acorns that his keepers have scattered in the brush or hidden in the trees.

Arthur, like most bears, has a sweet tooth, and each day his dedicated keepers make sure that he gets special medications and supplements, hidden in fresh fruits like pears, apples, or strawberries. Another favorite treat is sweet clover. The clover does not grow inside his habitat, but the Galt staff regularly picks it from other parts of the sanctuary to give to this special bear.

Arthur's habitat has sunny spots, as well as many cool and shaded areas. Arthur can choose where he wants to be depending on his mood and the weather. In cool weather, and in the early morning, Arthur can usually be found curled up in a shallow hole that he dug for himself in the dirt. It is lined with a deep layer of straw bedding. On cool, sunny days he likes lying on his back with his legs up in the air - a very relaxed pose for a bear! Another favorite lounging spot, according to keeper Nicole, is beneath his apricot tree, where he will occasionally reach up, pull down a low branch, and snack on the fruit at his leisure. And of course, he does love his pools and often takes a dip after breakfast, as well as frequent soaks in the cool water when the weather is warm.

Please consider making a donation to PAWS in honor of Arthur, or becoming an adoptive parent to this wonderful bear. You can also help Arthur by purchasing a bottle of Cosequin DS, a glucosamine supplement for arthritis, that Arthur and other older animals at PAWS take each day. Dr. Gai has listed it on our Amazon Wish List. Click here to view.


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PAWS Says Goodbye to Sheba

It is with heavy hearts that we report the passing of Sheba, an African lion. Born in a breeding facility in 1993, she and her brother were sold as "pets" to a man who kept them in his private home in Detroit. When the male lion became too difficult for their owner to handle he was euthanized. Being an inherently dangerous wild animal, Sheba also became increasingly difficult to handle and her owner surrendered her to the Michigan Humane Society. When the Humane Society contacted PAWS cofounders Pat Derby and Ed Stewart, we quickly agreed to provide her with a forever home.

Sheba lived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary for 15 years, where she was finally able to be herself and express normal lion behavior. Once at PAWS, Sheba received a healthy and complete diet and much needed veterinary care. During a routine physical examination it was discovered that Sheba had been declawed on all four paws sometime in the past. Declawing big cats often leaves these majestic animals crippled or in pain for the rest of their lives. Sheba's paws were definitely affected by this surgery, causing her to walk on the tips of her toes. Fortunately, she always had access to soft soil and grass to walk on, and this helped reduce the pressure on her damaged paws.

Sheba was later moved to a much larger habitat at PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary, where she lived next door to lioness Camba and the other rescued Bolivian circus lions. Watching Sheba's first steps into her spacious new habitat was an emotional experience for Pat and Ed, as they had always dreamed of a large habitat and companions for this special lion.

Sheba was fond of Pat and Ed, but was not especially enamored of anyone else. At PAWS, animals are completely free to express their wild natures, and they are not required or expected to interact with people. Big cat supervisor Renae Smith recalled meeting Sheba over eight years ago in Galt when she was a new keeper. Sheba seemed calm when Renae would rake leaves outside her habitat fence, and would sometimes even roll over on her back and make a low, "cooing" sound. Sheba maintained this trusting demeanor after her move to ARK 2000, which made it very easy for Renae to administer the medications Sheba needed.

Sheba's mobility gradually decreased over the past two years, but she still enjoyed exploring her grassy habitat. Her favorite spot was resting under a large oak tree where she could look out over the other lion habitats, and where she could watch birds, squirrels, and turkeys pass by. Ed built a dirt pathway and ramp which made it easier for her to walk up and down the hill from her den to her tree. She received a variety of arthritis medications daily, hidden in pieces of her favorite treats.

In late April, Sheba's condition began to decline. Her appetite began to wane, and she was having greater difficulty walking. Medications were adjusted, but ultimately nothing could stop the progression of her symptoms. On May 4th, the difficult but compassionate decision was made to euthanize her. Sheba passed from this life at age 23 - a long life for a lion - surrounded by those who loved her.

A necropsy performed by veterinary pathologists at U.C. Davis revealed that in addition to arthritis, Sheba also had cancer in her kidney, adrenal gland, and lungs.

This magnificent lioness will be truly missed by all who were fortunate enough to meet and care for her.


To learn more facts about the declawing of house cats and big cats visit The Paw Project's website here.


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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.


PAWS Remembers Pat Derby

It's hard to believe it's been two years since the passing of PAWS co-founder Pat Derby, who died on February 15, 2013, after battling cancer. Pat’s indomitable spirit and passionate drive continues to guide us in everything we do today, from animal care to advocacy. Pat co-founded PAWS with Ed Stewart, who continues to lead and build the organization, so that wild animals used in entertainment have a true advocate and a place of safety and sanctuary.

Once a famous exotic animal trainer in Hollywood, Pat saw that animals were suffering and dying for people’s entertainment. This is what led her to write her tell-all book, The Lady and Her Tiger, which exposed the dark side of animal training in the entertainment industry. She knew that trainers never abused the animals in front of everyone on a film set – it always happened in private. Animals were sometimes savagely beaten so a trainer could assure a quick and consistent performance once the cameras were rolling. Though many people in the entertainment industry knew what was happening, Pat was the first to take action and inform the public of the real price that animals pay for their entertainment.

“The work that Pat started over 30 years ago is more vital than ever,” said Ed Stewart, recalling how he and Pat carefully documented the horrific lives of animals used in live entertainment, especially circuses, and started the worldwide effort to end their suffering. “Pat started the war on circuses that use wild animals. She was THE voice for lions and tigers in tiny traveling cages and elephants chained by their legs in trucks and railroad cars,” said Stewart. “Pat Derby was proud to be ‘enemy number one’ to the circus industry.”

Unfortunately, turning a blind eye to the suffering that animals endure for entertainment continues today in film and beyond – from orcas to elephants, from TV advertisements to roadside zoos to circuses and elephant rides. Under Ed Stewart’s strong direction PAWS is tackling these issues and advocating for captive exotic and wild animals – just as Pat wished. She believed in not only giving animals sanctuary, but vigorously opposing the powerful industries that exploit them, something PAWS continues to do. We educate the public, work to pass key legislation, and use the media to spread the word about the cruel training and use of elephants, big cats, bears, nonhuman primates and other wild animals who suffer a lifetime for a few moments of “entertainment.”

Pat was a remarkable woman, a fearless warrior for the animals who made a real difference for captive wildlife. Everything she did was for the animals – and we continue to honor her legacy each and every day.

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 Advocacy Updates and

Ways You Can Take Action for Animals

When PAWS President Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby founded PAWS in 1984, it was the only animal organization with a comprehensive captive wildlife program. Ed shot some of the first-ever undercover video exposing the abuse of elephants in circuses, showing elephants buckling under the blow of the bullhook.

Many people know PAWS primarily for our work in providing sanctuary for captive wildlife in need, but advocacy is a critical part of our mission. Without it, we would never see an end to the suffering of wild animals used in entertainment, roadside zoos, and those kept as exotic "pets."

Read about PAWS' advocacy work below.


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San Francisco Bans

Wild Animal Performances

San Francisco is officially the largest U.S. city to ban all performances by wild or exotic animals. The ordinance, which was unanimously passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, has been formally adopted. Supervisor Katy Tang introduced the measure.

PAWS is proud to have contributed to this very important effort, which was spearheaded by the League of Humane Voters - California. Ed Stewart spoke at the Public Safety Committee meeting early in April, encouraging members to support this important action.


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Above: Asian bull elephant Prince is a former circus elephant. He now lives at PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas, CA.


June 23

Humane Lobby Day In Sacramento


A day for elephants! Presented by HSUS, this year's event focused on elephants and the passage of two key bills: Assembly bill 96 to prohibit the sale of ivory and rhino horns and Senate Bill 716 to end the use of the bullhook on elephants.


PAWS President Ed Stewart was one of the speakers at an exciting rally held on the steps of the Capitol. Ed joined Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, author of AB 96, Senator Ricardo Lara, author of SB 716 and CSI star Jorja Fox. Jorja later accompanied Ed on meetings with leading California legislators. To top off the day, AB 96 passed in committee. It was a good day for elephants!


PAWS president and cofounder Ed Stewart with CSI star Jorja Fox at Humane Lobby Day in Sacramento.


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Above: At the Senate Safety Committee hearing,

left to right: Ed Stewart, PAWS' president and cofounder; Gina Kinzley, Oakland Zoo lead

elephant keeper; Jennifer Fearing, president of Fearless Advocacy, Inc.; Catherine Doyle, PAWS' director of science, research and advocacy; Joel Parrott, DVM, president and CEO, Oakland Zoo


PAWS Battles to Ban the Bullhook

in California - Wins First Vote!

PAWS is one of the key sponsors of SB 716, the

California bill introduced by Senator Ricardo Lara that would end the use of bullhooks and similar devices in the state. We are thrilled to report that the bill was passed in the Senate, by a vote of 29 to 7. It now moves to the Assembly.

The bullhook is a weapon resembling a fireplace poker, with a sharpened steel tip and hook at the end. It is commonly used in circuses, rides and other "entertainment" to dominate and control elephants through pain and fear. Elephants are taught at a young age to associate the bullhook with pain by using it to forcefully prod, hook and strike the animals on sensitive parts of their bodies, sometimes causing wounds and lacerations. This inhumane training continues throughout their lives.

PAWS has been working hard to pass this measure, as it is critical to protecting captive elephants from harm. In addition to keeping our California members active with calling and emailing their state senators, PAWS President Ed Stewart testified before the Senate Public Safety Committee in April, urging senators to vote in favor of SB 716. The bill passed on a 5-2 vote. Leading up to the vote, Ed Stewart, PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy Catherine Doyle and PAWS Publications Editor Debbie Casey joined Jennifer Fearing of Fearless Advocacy, Inc., to walk the halls of the State Capitol, meeting with senators' staff and educating them about why the bullhook must be prohibited. We then met with Oakland Zoo General Curator Colleen Kinzley and Lead Elephant Keeper Gina Kinzley for a second day of meetings. It was encouraging to hear that the senators had received numerous phone calls and emails in support of SB 716.

Thank you to everyone who took action!

Now we begin our efforts to pass the bullhook bill in

the California Assembly, and with the help of California residents we will free elephants in California from a life

of pain and fear. Stay tuned for more information on

how you can help!

For information about California's legislative process and how an idea becomes a bill click here.

Here's how your Senator voted:



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Top Five Myths About Bullhooks

Elephant exhibitors who rely on the bullhook to dominate and control elephants will stop at nothing to defend their inhumane treatment of these majestic animals. Here are the top 5 myths they spread about the bullhook, and the facts that reveal the truth.

Myth #1: Banning the bullhook will harm elephants.

Fact: Prohibiting use of the bullhook will protect elephants from the physical and psychological harm inflicted on them when they are jabbed, hooked and struck with the bullhook during training, performances and routine management.

Myth #2: The bullhook is essential to caring for elephants.

Fact: Progressive zoos and sanctuaries do not use the bullhook. These facilities utilize Protected Contact, which relies on positive reinforcement training, food treats and praise to provide high quality husbandry and veterinary care for elephants.

Myth #3: Prohibiting bullhoook use would put keepers and veterinarians at risk.

Fact: Humans are at greatest risk when working in direct contact with elephants. Veterinarians and keepers working in Protected Contact perform necessary husbandry care and veterinary procedures through a barrier that protects them from harm.

Myth #4: Routine husbandry procedures can be performed safely and stress-free using the bullhook.

Fact: Elephants under control of the bullhook are in a constant state of fear and stress. These elephants have no choice but to comply with commands, and they know that if they step out of line they will be punished. In contrast, elephants managed in Protected Contact voluntarily participate in training sessions because they are positive experiences that include food rewards and praise.

Myth #5: The bullhook is similar to a leash on a dog, or reins for a horse.

Fact: The bullhook is designed to inflict pain so an elephant will immediately respond to the handler. If someone were to use a bullhook or similar device to control a dog or a horse it would be considered cruelty to animals.

And we couldn't leave out this one:

Myth: Without the bullhook, elephants will go extinct. Fact: There is no logical connection between use of a bullhook and the survival of elephants in the wild.


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Elephant Protection Bill AB 96

Passes California Assembly!

On June 2 the California Assembly passed AB 96 - the bill introduced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins to prohibit the import and sale of elephant ivory and rhino horns - by a vote of 62 to 14, with four representatives not voting. The bill now moves to the state Senate.

Elephants and rhinos are being poached at alarming rates: On average, 96 elephants are killed each day in Africa. This includes countries like Mozambique, where poachers have massacred half of the elephant population in just five years. And in Tanzania, which has seen a catastrophic decline of about 60 percent of its elephants. Rhinos are faring no better. More than 1,000 rhinos out of a remaining 29,000 in the wild were poached in South Africa in 2014 alone. And 2015 may be even worse.

Unless action is taken now, elephants and rhinos are headed toward extinction. California is the second largest market for the sale of illegal ivory in the United States, and these sales are estimated to have doubled over the past eight years.

Though the state has prohibited the sale of ivory since 1977, a loophole rendered the law unenforceable. AB 96 will close that loophole and allow the Department of Fish and Wildlife to enforce the law.

Thank you to everyone who called and sent messages to their representatives in the Assembly! Please stay tuned for information on contacting your representative in the state Senate

Won't you make a donation to PAWS today so we can continue our important work for the animals?

PAWS is working hard to pass AB 96 and other key elephant protection bills, such as SB 716 which would make California the first state to prohibit use of the cruel bullhook on elephants. But legislation is just one of the ways that PAWS helps protect elephants and other animals in captivity and in the wild - from providing sanctuary to captive exotic animals in need, to supporting anti-poaching efforts in Africa.

Your generous gift to PAWS lays the groundwork for change by addressing the root problems that cause so many animals to needlessly suffer and promoting a better future for them all.

To make a donation click here.

Here's how your representative voted:

(click on the image below to enlarge)


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Top Hollywood Celebrities

Urge Support for California Bill

to Protect Wild Elephants and Rhinos from Slaughter

Some of Hollywood's most famous celebrities partnered with PAWS to lend their star power and support to AB 96, the bill that would prohibit the sale of ivory and rhino

horns in California. More than a dozen entertainment movers and shakers signed a letter of support that was sent to California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Senator Ricardo Lara, who co-authored AB 96. The

etter's signatories include:

TV's Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari; Academy Award-winning actress Kim Basinger; Emmy Award-winning television legend Bob Barker; Actress Kristen Bauer van Straten of HBO's True Blood; Actress Jorja Fox of TV's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; Writers and producers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Celebrity chef and author Courtney McBroom; Actor Ross McCall of Band of Brothers; Celebrity jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald; Actor and comedian Kevin Nealon; Manager/Partner Radius Entertainment Oren Segal; Award-winning actress, comedian and producer Lily Tomlin; Award-winning director and actress Betty Thomas, Hill Street Blues

An estimated 96 elephants are killed for their tusks each day in Africa, and more than 1,000 rhinos out of a remaining 29,000 in the wild were poached in South Africa in 2014 alone. AB 96 would close a loophole that prevents the effective enforcement of existing California law prohibiting the sale of ivory and would also prohibit the sale of rhino horns. California is the second largest market for the sale of illegal ivory in the United States, and these sales are estimated to have doubled over the past eight years.

Read the letter here.


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Thank You! - May 2015

Amazon "Wish List" Donors

Alan Marifuku: one bottle of Cosequin DS. Linda McNall: one bottle of Cosequin DS, one bottle of RenAvast. Patricia Connelly: one set of booster cables, 10 lbs. of peanuts. Marie Kondzielski: one bottle of Cosequin DS. Jennifer Clark (Loving & Learning): two 40 lb. cases of oranges. Rita Lucas: one bottle of Cosequin DS. Kim Pichler: one bottle of Cosequin DS. Paige Felker: one bag of Ultimate Equine Skin and Coat. Cynthia Kendall: one bottle of Cosequin DS, one cotton mop, one box of trash bags, one set of walkie-talkies, one set of booster cables, three boxes of toilet paper. Cary and Sophie Pier: one bag of Natural Balance dry cat food. Maureen K. O'Brien: one tub of Psyllium. Vicki A. Lavetts: one bag of Ultimate Equine Skin and Coat. Susan Rancourt: one floor fan w/pedestal. Marcia Carlson: one bottle of Renal Essentials, one bag of Ultimate Equine Skin and Coat. Peggy Buckner: one tub of Psyllium, one bottle of Renal Essentials. Anonymous donors: two-ton floor jack, one ladder, two bottles of RenAvast, one scoop shovel, three bags of Blue Buffalo, one Libman push broom.


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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