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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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Total raised: $24,633!

We're thrilled! We came VERY close to reaching our goal of raising $25,000 in 24 hours for the animals at PAWS. Thank you from all of us at PAWS!


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Los Angeles Passes Motion to Become Largest U.S. City to Ban Use of Wild Animals for Entertainment!

On April 25, 2017, The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to pass a motion by Councilmember David Ryu to ban the use of wild animals for entertainment or amusement, including in circuses, other wild animal exhibitions, and rentals for house parties. The City Attorney's office must now draft the ordinance language that will require the Council's final approval.

PAWS and The Humane Society of the United States National Council member Cheri Shankar led the charge on this effort, supported by Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA, Born Free USA, and In Defense of Animals. We also thank sanctuaries Big Cat Rescue and Lions, Tigers and Bears, and the Oakland Zoo for their support.

The bans on cruel elephant bullhooks passed in Los Angeles and Oakland and set the stage for this important next step of protecting all performing wild animals. Not long after these passed, the Ringling Bros. Circus ended its elephant acts. Then earlier this year the circus announced it would shut down forever, citing the absence of elephants as a factor. Now, prohibitions on performing wild animals will be possible in even more major U.S. cities.

PAWS is proud of the instrumental role we played in passing these bullhook bans (and a state-wide ban in California!) - and now this important win for the animals in Los Angeles.

Since its inception in 1984, PAWS has fought to protect all performing wild animals, and we are still going strong! Thank you to Councilmember Ryu and to all the Los Angeles residents who called and emailed their councilmembers! We also thank our celebrity friends, including Lily Tomlin, Jane Wagner, Kim Basinger and Kristin Bauer van Straten, for getting the message out on social media.


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Book Review:

"Elephants Among Us: Two Performing Elephants in 20th Century America"

All too often the sad lives and deaths of captive elephants go unrecorded or they are lost with time. In "Elephants Among Us: Two Performing Elephants in 20th Century America", with the foreword written by PAWS President Ed Stewart, author Mike Jaynes sets out to preserve the memories of elephants Stoney and Mary. Though they lived decades apart, their stories are united by their exploitation for "entertainment" and their tragic ends.

The greater part of "Elephants Among Us" chronicles the plight of Stoney, a male Asian elephant who was crippled when his rear leg hamstring snapped while practicing a hind leg stand for a Las Vegas show. In excruciating pain and unable to stand, he was relegated to a windowless building. That's when fearless animal activist Linda Faso joined forces with PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, to fight for Stoney.

Jaynes effectively uses first-hand accounts of events, both for Stoney and the elephant Mary, whose much older story is told in the latter part of the book. While the subject matter may be difficult, Jaynes' meticulous research and interesting perspectives keep you engaged. After reading this book you will never forget these elephants - and that's how it should be. 

Click here to order your copy of "Elephants Among Us."


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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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Maggie Undergoes

Second Dental Procedure

by Dr. Jackie Gai, PAWS Director of Veterinary Services

On April 18th, African elephant Maggie underwent a second dental procedure of mammoth proportions at ARK 2000. A team of 28 animal care professionals worked together to safely put Maggie under general anesthesia and address her dental problems. The team was organized and led by representatives of the Colyer Institute, and included professionals from the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the Oakland Zoo, the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and 15 members of PAWS' elephant care and veterinary staff. It "takes a village" to accomplish a procedure of this size, and every individual played a significant role.

Maggie's dental team was made up of five people, including two veterinarians and a dentist who treats both humans and animals. Surprisingly, elephants have a very small mouth relative to their enormous body size. There is actually room for only one person to perform work inside the oral cavity at a time (photo, below). Heavy equipment and power tools are necessary to place the elephant's head and mouth in the proper position and to trim or extract their massive teeth.

General anesthesia is a very delicate and tricky procedure for an elephant. Elephants can suffocate under the weight of their own organs if they lie down in certain positions, so it was critically important to carefully and quickly assist Maggie onto her side once the anesthetic drugs began to take effect. Strength, special equipment and choreography are all necessary to assure safe positioning. PAWS' president, Ed Stewart, led members of our elephant care staff in both assisting Maggie down and giving her support in getting up at the end of the procedure (photo, below). The anesthesia team was composed of 12 people, each with a specific task such as administering I.V. fluids or anesthetic drugs, monitoring vital signs and maintaining ventilation.

Dental problems appear to be fairly common in captive elephants in the U.S., and can lead to death from malnutrition or infection if not corrected. Elephants usually have six sets of molar teeth during their lifetimes, which erupt from the back of the mouth, migrate forward toward the front of the mouth, and are eventually shed in segments while a new molar grows in from behind. Unfortunately, some elephants have deformed teeth that become impacted instead of shed, or curve towards the cheek or tongue. While the definitive cause of these deformities is not yet known, it is speculated that inadequate nutrition at a very young age may play a role. All of the teeth that an elephant will have in his or her lifetime are present as small buds in the upper and lower jawbones when they are babies. These immature teeth can be permanently damaged by poor nutrition during important developmental stages of life, causing deformed teeth to erupt decades later.

Maggie has three abnormal molars, with the two bottom molars most affected. Normal teeth are oval in shape, and move straight from the back to the front of the mouth, but Maggie's teeth are curved and are moving towards her tongue and cheek instead of forward. An additional complication is that her jawbone has grown firmly around the base of at least one tooth, anchoring it in its abnormal position and preventing normal movement of this tooth and the teeth behind it. Because of the severity and complexity of Maggie's dental problems, she will probably need procedures like this on an annual basis until they are corrected.

We are grateful to the Colyer Institute for bringing together some of the world's most experienced elephant professionals to help Maggie. Their team members have successfully anesthetized hundreds of elephants, and have a vast amount of experience with elephant dentistry. Some of the participants in Maggie's procedure volunteered their time and expertise, and we are also very grateful to them for their generosity.

The total cost for this procedure is approximately $70,000 and includes not only fees associated with the visiting team, but a virtual mountain of fluids, medications, diagnostic materials, and other consumable veterinary supplies.

Please make a donation to help offset the cost of Maggie's procedure and support our mission of providing excellent care to all the animals at PAWS. To make a contribution, click here. To everyone who has already donated to Maggie's dental care, we sincerely thank you!

Maggie (above left) recovered beautifully from her dental procedure and the next morning was outside mud bathing and happily munching on grass with her close friends Lulu and Toka.


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Special Veterinary Care

For Tiger Roy

Thirteen-year old tiger Roy came to PAWS as a cub with his sisters, Kim and Claire, when the roadside zoo where they were born was shut down. The young cubs were products of "puppy mill"-style breeding, to produce a steady supply of cubs to be used for photo sessions with the public, handling and petting, and other exploitative uses. Captive tigers in these situations are often encouraged to breed with their own siblings, parents or other close relatives in order to produce desired color mutations. Until they were rescued, Roy, Kim and Claire were destined to become part of this cycle of abuse, including breeding when they became mature enough. Roy's crossed eyes and crooked spine are examples of the kinds of genetic defects often associated with irresponsible breeding.

In October 2016, keepers at PAWS noticed an unusual appearance on the surface of Roy's left eye, and our veterinary staff prescribed appropriate antiviral and antibiotic medications that were carefully hidden in his food. Roy seemed healthy in every other way, active, and alert with a good appetite. Keepers and veterinary staff regularly checked on his eyes, and the lesions seemed to be quiet and even looked like they were healing. In late March, however, Roy's left eye suddenly and unexpectedly became very inflamed. PAWS' veterinarians examined his eyes under anesthesia and discovered that his left cornea was severely damaged beyond repair, and that he was now blind in that eye. In order to relieve pain and prevent severe infection, the decision was made to remove his eye.

On April 7th, Roy was brought into The Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center for surgery. This recently completed facility is ARK 2000's first on-site clinic, with state-of-the-art equipment that enables us to provide the best veterinary care possible. Roy's surgery was the first major procedure to take place in the Wellness Center, which was designed to easily accommodate important procedures on large animals.  Dr. Jennifer Curtis performed Roy's enucleation surgery, assisted by Dr. Jackie Gai. PAWS' staff registered veterinary technician Lynn Dowling monitored anesthesia and provided a vital support role, assisted by longtime PAWS friend and supporter Kirk Stafford, RVT. PAWS' president, Ed Stewart, sanctuary manager, Brian Busta, and tiger staff were also instrumental in making this surgery safe and successful.

Roy recovered quickly after surgery, and almost immediately seemed more comfortable. Tissue and other samples collected during surgery will be analyzed by U.C. Davis and Cornell diagnostic laboratories in an effort to determine the underlying cause of his eye lesions. Dr. Gai has also been consulting with veterinary ophthalmologists at U.C. Davis. Our veterinarians have developed a treatment plan intended to keep Roy's remaining eye healthy. His condition is very unusual, and every effort is being made to keep him comfortable and preserve his vision. We thank Kirk Stafford for generously volunteering his time and lending his expertise to help Roy.

Your support is vital to our veterinary program and providing expert medical care to the animals at our sanctuaries. Click here to make a donation to PAWS today.


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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 April Amazon

"Wish List" Donors

Kristen Linoski: two sets of walkie-talkies/radios. Bill Mentus: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#, one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Patricia Connelly: one package of Purell hand soap/sanitizer, one package of AA batteries, 24#. Sue Begnal: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coat. Nancy Gordon: two sets of walkie-talkie/radios. Karen (no last name listed): one set of walkie-talkie/radios, one box of 13 gal. trash bags, one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#. Jennifer Crum: one box of 33 gal. trash bags, one box of 13 gal. trash bags. Barbara Greene: one box of 42 gal. trash bags, one bag of Greenies Pill Pockets. Marisa Landsberg: two sets of walkie-talkie/radios. Kemper Conwell: one 20 lb. tub of Psyllium. Kim Behrens: three 40 lb. boxes of oranges. Kurt Buckheim: one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#, one 40 lb. box of oranges. Dr. Meggi Raeder: two sets of walkie-talkies/radios. Cathleen DeOrnelas: one set of walkie-talkies/radios, four bags of Greenies Pill Pockets, two bottles of Duralactin, two bottles of Renal Essentials, 60#, one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Carol Roscelli: one box of 33 gal. trash bags, one box of 13 gal. trash bags, one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium, one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Anonymous Donors: one gallon of Red Cell, two Probiocin.


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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