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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 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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Tiger Siblings Roy, Kim and Claire

Move To ARK 2000

We are pleased to share the good news that tiger siblings Roy, Kim, and Claire have moved from PAWS' Galt, Calif., sanctuary where they have lived since they were young cubs, to a spacious new habitat at ARK 2000. The move happened over a two-day period, as one by one each tiger was coaxed into his or her own transport cage and driven the short distance to ARK 2000 in San Andreas. They have all settled in beautifully.

Roy and his two sisters, Kim and Claire, were four months old when they arrived at PAWS. They were born on June 2, 2003, at a now defunct roadside zoo in New Hampshire that constantly bred cubs for photos shoots, other roadside zoos and the exotic pet trade. PAWS was contacted by an animal welfare group asking if we would take the three cubs, and PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, wholeheartedly agreed to provide permanent sanctuary.

When the three young tigers arrived at the Galt sanctuary on October 2, 2003, they received a thorough medical exam by PAWS' veterinarian Dr. Jackie Gai (pictured left with tiger cub Roy) and were immediately started on a wholesome, nutritious diet. To prevent future breeding, Roy was neutered a few months after arrival. Kim and Claire would later undergo ovariohysterectomies (spay surgery).

At the time, construction of tiger habitats at ARK 2000 was still in the planning stages so the three cubs moved into a large, grassy enclosure in Galt complete with a custom-built pool designed by PAWS co-founder and President Ed Stewart. This habitat has been home to the cubs for nearly twelve and a half years, and it has been a comfortable and familiar place for them to grow up and mature. Our goal all along was to move them up to a larger habitat at ARK 2000, but this plan was delayed after our unexpected, emergency rescue in 2004 of 39 tigers from horrific conditions in a facility in Colton, California.

PAWS has a great deal of experience moving animals in a safe and humane manner. Moving can be a very stressful experience for any captive wild animal, so our primary goal is to make the process as stress-free as possible. Custom-designed transport cages are used. Each cage is large enough for an animal to stand up, turn around, stretch, and lie down comfortably. Animals are gently coaxed to voluntarily enter their transport cages and are transported fully awake and aware, thus avoiding the potential health risks associated with anesthesia or sedation. Careful planning ensures that the move itself is quick and calm, and our well-trained staff ensure that every step of the process is done efficiently and safely.

Now a full-grown adult, Roy (above) is the largest tiger PAWS has ever rescued. He is tall and lanky, and standing on all fours he is almost as tall as some of our keeper staff! We estimate his weight to be well over 600 pounds. In the very near future we'll know Roy's exact weight, thanks to a generous donor who funded a special scale at ARK 2000 that can be placed underneath a tiger's sleeping platform to obtain a weight without the tiger knowing it's there.

Roy is always watchful and observant, never missing anything going on nearby. He enjoys playing as much as sleeping, and can often be seen stretched out in the grass sound asleep with his "little" sisters. Although he was cautious about passing through doorways for the first few days after the big move, he now feels comfortable and confident. His distinctive crossed eyes and mild curvature of the spine are visible evidence that he is the product of inbreeding, and as a consequence he will always have impaired vision and a tendency toward early arthritis.

Kim (above) is the smallest but most brave of the three tigers. She is always keen to explore new things, and is usually the first to have a look (and sniff) at anything new. Not surprising, Kim walked confidently into the transport cage in Galt - ready for the adventure ahead! During the trip, she rested calmly on a bed of soft hay. Upon arrival at ARK 2000, she strolled out of the cage and into her new den box and made herself right at home. She seems to be thoroughly enjoying the new sights and smells of her new home, and explores the hillside trees, logs, and grass with great relish.

Claire (above) is the most cautious of the trio, and was the last one to walk into the transport cage for her big move. Once in, she seemed accepting of the plan and was calm. When we stopped halfway through the road trip to check on her, Claire peeked back at us from a comfortable position on her bed of hay. Claire is never far from her big brother Roy, and can often be seen lying in the tall grass with him. She loves the grass so much that it is sometimes a challenge to encourage her to come in from the habitat to eat. At meal time PAWS' keeper staff call the tigers in so that they can each be fed in their own den box. This allows each tiger to eat at his or her own pace, without competition, and also allows staff time to clean the habitat. When Claire is called, she walks several steps toward us and then plops down in the grass, luxuriously rolling on her back for a few minutes. Then she gets up, walks a little bit, and plops down to roll again!

We are delighted to see these three beautiful tigers enjoying their spacious new home, and look forward to continuing to provide expert, dedicated care for them in this new chapter of their lives.

Thank you to Tigers In America, and to A Kinder World Foundation trustees Diana and David Swartz, for making Roy, Kim and Claire's move possible.


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Veterinary Care For Elephants In A

Protected Contact Management System

By Jackie Gai, DVM

Performing Animal Welfare Society Veterinarian

The topic of elephant handling and training has become part of the national dialog on elephant care in light of a wave of legislative action banning the use of the elephant bullhook in progressive cities across the country.

One of the claims made by proponents of the circus-style training system known as "free contact," which relies on use of the bullhook to control elephants, is that elephants in free contact receive better veterinary care than those in "protected contact" management, which is what we practice at PAWS. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I have worked with elephants in both free and protected contact, and have a broad base of experience in caring for them. So I welcome this opportunity to share with you information about PAWS' comprehensive program of veterinary care for the elephants living at the ARK 2000 sanctuary.

Read Dr. Jackie Gai's complete report here.

Meet PAWS' veterinary staff by clicking here.

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Above: Asian elephant Gypsy in her habitat.


"Elephants Love Dirt"

PAWS spends a lot of money each month on dirt. That probably seems like an odd statement coming from an organization with a 2,300 acre sanctuary, but every month we bring in truck loads of fresh soft earth for the elephants. PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, used to call dirt a "magic elixir" for elephants. After you watch these short videos of Asian elephants Gypsy and Nicholas we think you'll understand why!

In video #1: Gypsy had just been given a bath outside of the barn, and instead of walking out into her habitat she chose to come inside, where earlier a fresh pile of dirt had been dumped in one of the stalls. She dusts and rolls and then finishes off with a "loofah" (aka street sweeper brush) treatment before heading back outside.

Click here to view>>>

In video #2: A fresh pile of dirt has just been dumped into the Asian elephant habitat. Watch how Gypsy reacts!

Click here to view >>>

In video #3: This video was taken a several years ago. A new barn for Nicholas had just been completed. When he walked into the barn for the first time, he found a BIG pile of fresh dirt. Guaranteed to make you smile!

Click here to view>>>

Please consider donating to our "elephants love dirt" fund.

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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.

Remembering Pat Derby

On February 15, 2013, PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, lost her battle with cancer. Pat may no longer be with us, yet we feel her presence every day. Her legacy of compassion and dedication to captive wildlife is alive in every animal who has found refuge at our three sanctuaries, and drives our efforts to protect captive wild animals from abuse and exploitation.

Pat was a famous exotic animal trainer when she wrote the groundbreaking 1976 book, "The Lady and Her Tiger," that exposed the dark underside of animal training in the entertainment industry. The book may have ended her Hollywood career, but it catapulted her, together with her partner of 37 years, PAWS President Ed Stewart, into rescuing and providing sanctuary for captive wildlife, advocating on their behalf, and fighting to end the use of wild animals in circuses and all forms of entertainment.

Pat believed in the power of sanctuary to transform exotic animals who were once forlorn back into the noble wild animals they are, by giving them a more natural environment, excellent care, and the opportunity to express natural behaviors - just letting them be wild animals again. That belief was the inspiration for the 2300-acre ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary, which today is home to Asian and African elephants, tigers, lion, black leopard and bears.

Ed Stewart continues to lead PAWS into the future, building on the work for captive wildlife that he and Pat started more than 30 years ago. We thank you, our supporters - whether a new friend or longtime partner - for making this work possible.

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 »




California Bill to Ban Elephant Bullhooks Clears Senate with 29-9 Vote!

Click here to watch the vote.

PAWS is very happy to report that on April 18 the California state Senate passed SB 1062, the bill introduced by state senator Ricardo Lara that would ban the use of cruel bullhook on elephants. The bill now moves to the Assembly where it must first clear assigned committees before going to the floor for a vote. If the bill passes in the Assembly, it would then go to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

Our supporters will recall that PAWS, working collaboratively with The Humane Society of the U.S. and the Oakland Zoo, passed a bullhook bill in California last year. Unfortunately, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill because it called for criminal penalties. This new bill is a non-criminal version of last year's bill, which we hope to again pass and send to the Governor's desk.

PAWS has worked with elephants for more than 30 years, and even though we care for bulls and highly dangerous elephants, we do not use a bullhook. No AZA-accredited zoo in California uses this cruel and archaic weapon.

The bullhook resembles a fireplace poker, with a sharpened steel tip and hook at the end. It is used to dominate and control elephants through pain and fear. Handlers forcefully jab, hook and strike elephants on sensitive parts of their bodies during training, performances and routine handling - and sometimes for no reason other than to re-establish their dominance. Even when not in use, the bullhook is a constant reminder of the painful punishment that can be delivered at any time.

Today, there is a safer and more humane way of managing elephants that uses positive reinforcement training, food treats and gentle words of encouragement. With this method, keepers provide excellent husbandry and veterinary care without the use of intimidation and painful punishment.

The cities of Los Angeles and Oakland prohibit use of the bullhook, and San Francisco has prohibited the use of all performing wild animals.

If you live in California and want to help make our state the first in the nation to ban the bullhook, please:

  • Be sure to "like" PAWS' Facebook page, where we will be posting the latest information on how Californians can help pass this important bill.
  • Stay tuned for PAWS alerts containing information on contacting your elected officials, urging them to support SB 1062.

If you don't live in California but know friends and family who do, please alert them to SB 1062. Or consider working to pass a ban on bullhooks in your area.

For more information, please contact Catherine Doyle, PAWS' director of science, research and advocacy,

Read Senator Lara's press release here.


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U.S. Zoos Import Wild Elephants From Swaziland Through Underhanded Move

PAWS is sorry to report that 17 wild elephants have been imported from Swaziland to three U.S. zoos: the Dallas Zoo, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, and the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas. (The zoos had planned to import 18 elephants, however, one elephant died while held captive in Swaziland, reportedly due to gastrointestinal problems.) The zoos drew even more criticism over this controversial import when it was discovered that they tried to secretly fly out the elephants ahead of a court decision that could have delayed the move.

As PAWS reported last month, animal protection organization Friends of Animals (FOA) had filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services' decision to allow the import. The agency had granted the permit, despite nearly 7,000 comments opposed to the action (85% of comments received), and a statement signed by 80 conservationists, scientists, veterinarians and animal welfare and policy experts from around the world condemning the import.

FOA then filed a separate motion that would have stopped the zoos from importing the elephants until the lawsuit could be heard. Instead of respecting the legal process, the zoos were preparing in secret to circumvent the court by removing the elephants before the judge could rule on the motion. Thanks to a whistleblower in Swaziland, we learned of the zoos' underhanded plan. FOA lawyer Michael Harris filed for an emergency restraining order to stop the move, which was temporarily granted. The zoos countered, saying the elephants were already crated and sedated and that it would be too dangerous to remove them and anesthetize them again later. The court then dissolved the emergency restraining order. (Questions still remain about the zoos' claim that the elephants had already been sedated.)

Not only did the zoos succeed in importing the young elephants, cruelly separating them from their mothers and families for a lifetime of deprivation in captivity, they avoided a court hearing that would have exposed the terrible impact of this traumatic import on the physical and emotional well-being of the young elephants now and in the future.

The zoos continue to spin the story that Big Game Parks in Swaziland, the private organization that controls the country's elephants, were set to cull (kill) 18 of its 39 elephants due to "overpopulation" and the effects of serious drought. Leading elephant expert Dr. Joyce Poole addressed this issue on the ElephantVoices Facebook page: "We don't believe so. Swaziland has space and habitat enough, and even if they no longer wanted the elephants, others in Africa had offered to take them. In Africa, and elsewhere, droughts come and go - it is part of nature. No elephants have been culled anywhere in Africa since 1997 because both science and public opinion have been so strongly against it. Swaziland and her King would have faced a massive PR backlash if they proceeded to kill 18 elephants. Instead, the parties achieved exactly what they wanted - a fat payment in exchange for young elephants snatched from their families and friends."

This import sets a terrible example for the rest of the world. The zoos' irresponsible action not only helps create more of a market for wild elephants, it eases the way for a country like Zimbabwe to export even more wild elephant calves to zoos in China, using the very same justifications as the U.S. zoos including "conservation."

In our opinion, real conservationists do all they can to keep elephants living in the wild, where they have the greatest conservation value and can live truly fulfilled lives. No matter how many millions of dollars you throw at it, captivity is not conservation. And it is no life for an animal as complex, inquisitive, intelligent and socially hardwired as an elephant.

We at PAWS know there are many challenges to elephant conservation due to habitat degradation and loss, poaching and human-elephant conflict. But we refuse to accept that the only answer is to sell off wild elephants to the highest bidders - especially when there are other options. Some options may be simpler, such as transferring elephants to another location within Africa, and some may be more elaborate. For example, Malawi is creating a 42,000-acre, New York City-sized preserve for 500 of its elephants, to relieve environmental pressure on the two parks where they now live. That is the kind of forward thinking we need in today's world. Not throwback thinking that relies on the archaic and inhumane capture of wild elephants for display. We need to think big if we are to protect and preserve elephants for generations (theirs and ours) to come. 


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Save the Date:

PAWS 2016 Conference

You won't want to miss the PAWS 2016 International Captive Wildlife Conference, November 11-13, 2016! This premier global summit will address the confinement anduse of exotic and wild animals - with a special focus on elephants, bears and tigers/lions. You can expect to hear from outstanding speakers from the fields of scientific research, conservation, law, and animal welfare, policy and care.

This year's conference will be held in San Andreas, California, home to PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary where we care for elephants, lion, black leopard, tigers and bears. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to tour ARK 2000 on Sunday, November 13, led by PAWS' President Ed Stewart. This is a unique chance to experience first-hand our beautiful, 2300-acre natural habitat sanctuary, learn more about the personal stories of our animals, and see how their lives have been transformed.

PAWS has been presenting outstanding conferences since 1992, attracting people from around the world. Our aim is to educate, stimulate critical discussion and promote action to protect and improve the welfare of captive wildlife. Online registration will begin on June 15. A link will be provided on our Calendar of Events page, along with a list of featured speakers and program.

We hope to see you in San Andreas!


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Thank you April

Amazon "Wish List" Donors

Kitty Hawk: eight bags of unsalted, in-shell peanuts. Patricia Connelly: one 30-lb. bag of Blue Buffalo, one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coat. Carol Haft: one gallon Chlorhexidine solution, one gallon Red Cell, four bags of unsalted, in-shell peanuts. Linda Faircloth: one 20-lb. tub of Psyllium. Kelly Isara: one box of apples (16 ct.). Sandra Loey: one 315' spool of trimmer line. Margaret Kane: one 30-lb. bag of Blue Buffalo. Cecelia Littlepage: one 24" push broom, one 40-lb. box of oranges. Anonymous Donations: two gallons of Red Cell, three boxes of nitrile gloves (small, medium and large).



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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