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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.
Learn More »





Thank you 2018 Big Day of Giving donors.


This is the fourth consecutive year that PAWS has participated in the Sacramento region's 24-hour Big Day of Giving event. This year, because of hundreds of generous friends from 28 states and three countries, PAWS won $1,000 in cash prizes — and, we exceeded our original Big Day of Giving goal by more than $12,000! We can hardly believe it and we're so grateful. Thank you!


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Registration is now open!

PAWS 2018 International

Captive Wildlife Conference

Register now for PAWS' 2018 International Captive Wildlife Conference, Nov. 9-11, at the Pickwick Gardens Conference Center in Burbank, California, with the theme of "Confronting Captivity." This three-day conference will address the confinement and use of wild animals, and features outstanding speakers from the fields of scientific research, conservation, law, and animal protection, care and policy.
PAWS has been presenting outstanding conferences since 1992, attracting speakers and attendees from around the world. Our aim is to educate, stimulate critical discussion, and promote action to protect and improve the welfare of captive wildlife. 
Click here for more information and to register.

Individual, business and corporate sponsorship opportunities are available; please send inquiries to PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy Catherine Doyle at


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New PAWS Program

Reaches Out to Academia

PAWS has launched an innovative new program for college-level professors and their students, to be conducted at the 2,300-acre ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary in California. As part of "Wild Animals in Captivity: Exploring the Interface Between Humans and Wildlife", students will learn about the captive wild animals we care for, and explore the empirical and ethical issues surrounding captive and wild animals, and how those issues resonate in the larger world today.

This single day program is designed for those interested in social justice, human-animal studies, animal welfare and behavior, conservation, and the contemporary interface of humans and nature. For more information, please contact PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy Catherine Doyle at


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How You Can Help PAWS Animals

PAWS provides lifetime care to the tigers, bears, elephants, and other animals that call our sanctuaries home. As animals age, their needs change and they may develop arthritis, kidney disease, and other conditions that are readily treatable with proper care. PAWS expert animal care and veterinary staff provide specialized nutritional and medical support, tailored to the individual needs of each animal. Your generous donations make this excellent care possible. Donate


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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.



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 »





Bears In Captivity:

The Overlooked Animals

Sampson, a black bear, was once was displayed in a dilapidated drive-through roadside attraction that had been cited for numerous violations of animal welfare law.

Boo Boo was a “pet” who became too unsafe to handle as he grew. His owners put a chain around his neck and left it there. The chain became embedded deep in Boo Boo’s neck and it wasn’t until after he was rescued that it was surgically removed.

Winston, Boo Boo’s enclosure-mate, came from a breeding compound where he was destined to become someone’s pet.

Ben (pictured above) was confined at a roadside zoo in a barren 12x22 foot cage made of concrete and chain link. He was fed dry dog food that was dumped onto the same floor where he urinated and defecated.

Today, these bears are safe and cared for at PAWS’ ARK 2000 sanctuary, in natural enclosures filled with grass, bushes, trees and a pool. They can engage in activities that are meaningful to them: digging, exploring, creating nest areas to sleep in, and foraging for food, including acorns that fall from shady oak trees.

Other captive bears are not so fortunate. While the public is becoming more sensitive to the exploitation of captive big cats and elephants, they are not as aware of the problems bears face in captivity, where they often are deprived of all that is natural and important to them.

In nature, bears spend most of their time foraging for food across vast areas, which keeps their bodies fit and their keen minds challenged. Black and brown bears are opportunistic omnivores who consume a wide variety of seasonally available foods such as fruits, berries, herbs, flowers, insects, grubs, vegetation, fish and carrion. In captivity, things are very different.



Roadside zoos and “bear pits”
Captive facilities such as roadside zoos and “bear pits” (photo above courtesy of PETA) often confine bears in small and filthy enclosures, with inadequate diets and care. This leads to a range of problems, including obesity due to inactivity, foot and joint problems caused by standing and walking on hard surfaces like concrete, and abnormal repetitive behaviors such as pacing and head rolling.

Bear pits, in which the animals are confined in deep concrete enclosures, are a form of sensory deprivation. All the bears can see are concrete walls and humans (who they see as predators) hovering above them, creating a continuous source of stress. Tourists who visit bear pits can buy food to throw to the animals, who unnaturally beg or repetitively pace. Although bears’ nutritional demands change with the seasons, these facilities often ignore their important dietary needs. In roadside attractions, bears may be denied shelter from inclement weather or the opportunity to retreat to a den in the winter.



Bear cub petting
Roadside zoos may offer sessions where visitors pay to handle or pose for pictures with young bears. Cubs are separated from their mothers at a young age, even though they would naturally spend about 17 months together. This deprives cubs of their mother’s milk and antibodies that are crucial to their developing immune systems, leaving them susceptible to disease. Photo and play sessions expose cubs to excessive handling, injury and stress. Facility staff may punch, violently shake or abuse young bears who "act up."

Black bear cubs weigh about 20 pounds at four months of age. By eight months, they can weigh 50 to 75 pounds. Bears have non-retractable claws, so even a young bear can cause injury to children and adults handling them. Once a cub is too old to be handled by the public, they are no longer of use and may be sold to other zoos, private owners, or used to produce more cubs. Unwanted bears may be slaughtered for the exotic meat market or the illegal trade in bear parts.

Bear shows and the pet trade
Some county and state fairs still feature cruel and archaic bear shows. Chained by the neck, bears are forced to perform ridiculous tricks such as balancing on balls, riding on scooters and walking on their front legs. Just like a circus, the bears are hauled around in dirty trucks, intensively confined, and subjected to violent training methods. Some roadside attractions also feature bear shows.

The private ownership of bears is inhumane for the animals and unsafe for people. “Pet” bears are often confined in tiny backyard cages where they will spend their lives in misery, deprived of all that is natural to them. Even bears who were captive-born and bottle-raised remain wild and are capable of killing people and inflicting serious injuries.

What you can do

An estimated 3,000 bears are confined in the U.S., with over 1,000 of them in non-accredited or zoo-like facilities – though there is no way to know the exact number. You can help these highly intelligent and active animals by:

Avoiding roadside attractions that exploit bears and bear cubs, and urging your friends to do the same.

Never take a selfie with a bear cub or any other wild animal.

Don’t be fooled by places that call themselves sanctuaries. A true sanctuary would never offer cubs for petting or photos, and they don’t buy, breed or make their animals perform.

Support PAWS’ rescue and sanctuary work for bears! PAWS spends about $10,000 per month to provide our seven bears with individualized diets, veterinary care, and daily TLC. Click here to make a donation. You can also “adopt” a bear for yourself or a friend; click here for more information.

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Since PAWS' founding in 1984, our sanctuaries have been home to many former circus animals, like Asian bull elephant Nicholas (above) who was taught to ride a tricycle when he was only two years old. Today he lives in a large, natural habitat at ARK 2000.


34 Years of PAWS Advocacy

Since 1984, PAWS has been rescuing captive wild animals and providing lifelong sanctuary for them - giving animals in need a safe and more natural life far away from the miseries they once endured in roadside zoos, circuses, backyard menageries, and the exotic "pet" trade. From the start, we knew that we also had to change public perception about the use of wild animals in circuses and other "entertainment," or the suffering would never end.

PAWS was one of the first organizations to document and expose circus cruelty and advocate on behalf of wild animals subjected to unnatural lives defined by deprivation, cruel training, intensive confinement, and constant transport from city to city. In a 2011 article, "The Cruelest Show on Earth", Mother Jones named PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, the circus' "no. 1 antagonist." All the while, PAWS has provided sanctuary for refugees from circuses, such as lioness Camba and elephants Nicholas, Prince and Gypsy who are currently in our care.

After years of hard work by PAWS and many other dedicated organizations and individuals, the tides are really turning! In September 2017, two more major cities banned the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows: A unanimous vote made Portland the first city in Maine to pass this legislation, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, prohibited the use of wild and exotic animal acts. Even more places are considering similar action, including Baltimore County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

Santa Fe and Portland follow in the steps of New York City's prohibition on wild animals in circuses earlier last year and a PAWS-led ban on wild animals in entertainment in Los Angeles for which the ordinance is being drafted. The state of Illinois made history by barring the use of elephants in traveling shows. More than 100 U.S. localities now regulate the use of captive wildlife.

Perhaps the most dramatic sign of change was the curtain coming down on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in May of 2017. PAWS is proud of its part in passing bans on cruel bullhooks in Los Angeles and Oakland, California - the first cities to enact bans where large circuses actually performed - that preceded Ringling's remarkable decision to abandon its trademark elephant acts in 2016 and then shut down altogether. In 2016 PAWS teamed up to ban bullhooks statewide in California and Rhode Island, ensuring elephants would never again be forced to perform or give rides under threat of this menacing weapon designed to control elephants through fear and pain.

PAWS has always recognized that the only way to end the suffering of captive wild animals is to address the root problem: their use as entertainment. This includes circuses, "pay to pet" operations that use and abuse big cats and bears, roadside zoos, county fairs and Renaissance faires, the exotic "pet" industry, film productions, or any other place that exploits captive wildlife.

Despite the many great advances for captive wild animals, this is not the time to sit back and relax. There is much more work to be done. All of us at PAWS look forward to tackling the many difficult and often heartbreaking issues together with you. Truly, it is your support and action that make great things happen for the animals!

Take action now!

Support the federal Big Cat Public Safety Act to end the suffering of big cats in cruel "pay-to-pet" operations. Introduced by Congressman Jeff Denham of California, this bill better protects the public and the animals, and it needs your support.

How you can help: Please call your U.S. Representative (click here to locate name and phone number). You don't have to be an expert on the issue. What is important is that your Representative knows a constituent supports the bill.

When you call: Tell the aide who answers the phone that you live in the Representative's district, and give your zip code. Then simply say you are calling to urge the Representative to cosponsor HR 1818, the Big Cat Public Safety Act. (Click here to see if your Representative has already cosponsored the bill.) Always be calm and polite. Because few people call their legislators your call will have much more impact than an email.

Does your favorite late night talk show host feature wild animals? This is not conservation or education! Use social media to comment on the show's Facebook page and Tweet your opposition. Send an email to the show.

Initiate a performing wild animal ban in your city.Contact PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy Catherine Doyle for assistance at


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Thank you March Amazon

"Wish List" Donors

Cassandra Lightfritz: one gallon of liquid bleach. Patricia L. Connelly: one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium. Deb (no last name): 10 bottles of Emcelle Tocopherol. C. Hoppe: two Hefty Strong Trash bags, 33 gallon, 48 count. Kaywood G. Fuqua: one gallon Red Cell; one box Glad trash bags, 13 gal. Lori Duval-Jackson: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Cristen Esquibel: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium; one Probiocin Oral Gel. Belinda Rogers: one Probiocin Oral Gel. Darlene S. Murchison: three 5 lb. bags of Missing Link Ultimate Equine Skin and Coat. Gary (no last name): one bottle Emcelle Tocopherol. Joanne and Paul Osburn: seven bags of diced pineapple; five bags of diced papaya. Anonymous donors: two, 7 qt. stainless pans; one 4-pk of Azodyl, one 12-pk of Probiocin Oral Gel. 



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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