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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 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 »

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.

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Above: Alexander lives at ARK 2000



PAWS' December 12

ARK 2000 Holiday Open House

We have a limited number of tickets available for our ARK 2000 Holiday Open House to be held on Saturday, December 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $50 for adults, $25 for seniors (60 and over) and $25 for children age 12 and under. If you're planning to attend, we advise you to purchase your tickets early. No tickets will be sold at the gate on the day of the event.

PAWS' 2,300-acre captive wildlife sanctuary, ARK 2000, is located at 1250 Pool Station Road in San Andreas, CA 95249. Guests arriving at the Holiday Open House will board shuttles to the bear, lion, tiger, leopard and elephant habitats. Once you exit the shuttle you will be walking on grass, dirt, gravel, and sometimes paved surfaces, so please remember to wear comfortable shoes! All guests are required to stay a safe distance away from the animals. PAWS management, keepers and volunteers will be on hand to tell you about the animals and answer questions.

If you would like to bring a holiday gift for the animals, favorites include any of the following favorites: apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, squash, pumpkins, melons, pears, unsalted peanuts in the shell, fresh mint leaves and fresh rosemary. You may drop off your gift by the front gate as you arrive, near the gift shop table, or by the gate as you're leaving. Thank you!

To purchase tickets, and for more information about this fun event, click 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 #: 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.

PAWS Remembers Pat Derby

It's hard to believe it's been more than 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 »

Above: At the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, where elephants are, protected, the population is stable and even increasing. Photo courtesy of Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE)


Help Stop U.S. Zoos From

Importing 18 Wild African Elephants!

The Dallas Zoo in Texas, Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska, and Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas have applied to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for a permit to import 18 wild-caught elephants from Swaziland. Most of the elephants in question are juveniles who are being cruelly separated from their mothers and social groups to spend their lives in captivity.

Swaziland has long allowed a family-run organization, Big Game Parks (BGP), to manage its three protected wildlife areas, apparently with no government oversight. BGP is threatening to cull (kill) the 18 elephants if permits are not issued, claiming the population of fewer than 35 elephants is destroying landscape in the parks and impacting the rhino population. In reality, the elephants occupy only small fenced portions of the reserves and no evidence has been presented to show significant habitat competition with rhinos.

Culling is an outdated and appalling management practice that has not been used in Southern Africa for two decades, yet the three zoos are shamelessly exploiting BGP's threat to kill the elephants. Even worse, they will be financially rewarding BGP for its irresponsible and archaic management practices.

Zoos are once again plundering the wild for young elephants because they cannot maintain a sustainable population of elephants and will eventually have none to display. Elephants in captivity frequently suffer a host of captivity-caused behavioral and physical problems, including foot disease and joint disorders, and die prematurely.

This will not be the last cruel capture and import. Zoos will have to return again and again to abduct wild elephant calves from their families for display. In fact, two U.S. zoos imported wild-caught elephants from Swaziland in 2003 - using the same claims and threats - and now they are back for more calves. The most reasonable and humane solution for the elephants, if in fact they must be relocated, is to send them to a protected park or sanctuary in Africa. To date, there is no evidence to show that BGP or the zoos have explored options for relocation within Africa.

PAWS has joined more than 80 elephant experts from around the world in a statement expressing opposition to the proposed import and proposing that a solution be found to keep the elephants in Africa. You can read the statement here.


Above: Elephant at a water hole in Hlane Royal National Park. Photo courtesy of EMS Foundation, South Africa


What you can do to help the

"Swazi 18" elephants:

1. Submit a comment on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) notice regarding the proposed import here >>>The deadline for comments is Monday, November 23, 2015. FWS is proposing three alternatives for actions it can take (grant the permit, deny the permit, reduce number of permissible elephants for import). Please tell FWS that there is another option: deny the permit and urge the zoos and Swaziland to relocate the elephants within Africa.

You can use these talking points in your brief comment (please use your own words for greater effectiveness):

I strongly oppose the import of 18 young elephants from Swaziland to U.S. zoos.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should consider a fourth option: Reject the Dallas Zoo's permit request and officially urge the zoo, its partners and Swaziland's Big Game Parks to relocate the elephants, if actually necessary, to a protected park or sanctuary in Africa. There is no evidence that this option has been comprehensively explored. Claims that poaching, habitat loss and other threats justify relegating these elephants to a lifetime in captivity are self-serving and only used to justify the capture and import of these elephants.

Elephants are intelligent, social, sensitive and self-aware. There can be no justification for the cruel separation of young elephants from their mothers and social groups and the severe distress that will cause - all for the purpose of incarcerating them in zoos.

Captivity does not guarantee the elephants a good life. Quite the contrary: Elephants in zoos frequently suffer a host of captivity-related mental and physical disorders, including often lethal foot and joint disease, and die prematurely.

The practice of capturing wild elephants and importing them for display in captivity is archaic, inhumane, and does nothing to help conserve African elephants.

Be sure to submit your comments by Monday, November 23!

2. Like and follow the Facebook page, The Big Rumble: Stop U.S. Zoos From Importing Wild Elephants, a forum for action. Click here >>>

3. Call and email your elected officials in Washington and urge them to use their influence to stop FWS from approving the import permit. Find your representative and senator(s) here>>>.

4. Watch the following Public Service Announcement featuring elephant advocates and experts opposing the proposed import and proclaiming: Keep African Elephants in Africa! View here >>>

For more information, contact PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy Catherine Doyle at

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Meet the Three Capuchins

Living at PAWS

PAWS' Galt sanctuary is home to four adult Capuchin monkeys. They include Groucho, Chico, and Zeppo - also known as the "Marx Brothers" - who live together in a large habitat with grass, climbing structures, and an adjoining heated den. Ella lives in an identical habitat next door, sharing one half of the den with the other three monkeys.

Wild Capuchin monkeys can be found in Brazil and other parts of South America. They are considered by scientists to be the most intelligent of all New World primates, and are incredibly clever at cracking palm nuts and catching frogs. Slender and agile, these small monkeys spend most of their time in trees, actively foraging for food. Wild Capuchin lifespan is estimated to be 15-25 years, but in captivity they can live much longer. Capuchin monkeys are intelligent, energetic, interactive, and inquisitive. In captivity, they are prone to escape, they bite, and can transmit a number of diseases to humans. In other words, they should never be kept as "pets." In fact, Capuchin monkeys are illegal to own as pets in California, and many other states.

Keeping captive primates both physically and mentally healthy requires dedication and hard work.

PAWS keepers enjoy the challenge of creating new and exciting things to keep the monkeys' active minds and bodies busy. A variety of branches, platforms, logs, hammocks, ropes and swings are strategically placed throughout their habitats on which to climb and play. A nutritious diet composed of "monkey biscuits," fruits, vegetables, and occasional insects is distributed throughout the habitat to encourage them to forage. Treats are offered several times a day to keep these busy monkeys occupied.


Above: Groucho and Chico


How did these monkeys come to live at PAWS?

In August 1996, a group of 50 monkeys were discovered living in filthy conditions in the basement of a private home in Iowa. Authorities removed the monkeys to temporary housing at the University of Iowa until appropriate homes could be found. PAWS' cofounder Pat Derby offered to provide a home for four of them and soon, Groucho, Chico, Zeppo, and Harpo (named by Pat) were enjoying their new digs in Galt, in an enclosure specially designed by Ed Stewart for busy, arboreal monkeys. The rest of the monkeys went to accredited sanctuaries and zoos, where their special needs could be met and they would receive excellent care. Harpo passed away in 2000 from complications of pneumonia and liver failure. Groucho, Chico, and Zeppo are estimated to be 20 years old and are in good health.

Ella and Jacque, once kept as illegal "pets," came to PAWS from two separate confiscations in 1994. The two got along well, spending their days foraging through their grassy habitat for bugs and small bits of fruit, nuts, and vegetables hidden by PAWS keepers. Unfortunately, Jacque passed away in 2013 from sudden heart failure.

Plans are underway to introduce Zeppo, who is actually a female, to Ella, so they can share a habitat and provide each other close companionship. Although all of the Capuchins share a common den area and can see, hear and communicate with each other, physical introductions need to made gradually and carefully to make sure they get along. Ella is estimated to be 28 years old.


Above: Zepppo


PAWS symbolic animal adoptions make great gifts for the holidays. To adopt Groucho, Chico, Zeppo, or Ella for an animal lover on your list, click here >>>.


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Thank You! - October 2015

Amazon "Wish List" Donors

Parmesh Sharma: one bottle of Azodyl, 90#, one bottle of AminAvast, 60#, one 30 lb. bag of Blue Buffalo, one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium, one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat. Michele Smith: one bottle CosequinDS, 250#. Patricia Connelly: one 10 lb. bag of Missing Link Equine Skin and Coat, one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Alice C. Witt: one bottle of Azodyl, 90#. Kelly Martin: one gallon of Red Cell. Carole Bognar: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Brittney, Nick and Nui Blume: one 20 lb. tub of Psyllium. Asher A. Borradaile: one case of unsalted peanuts, one 10 lb. bag of Missing Link Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat. Peggy Buckner: one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium. Chris Fraser: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Lisa M. Lyou: one 10 lb. bag of Missing Link Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat, one 20 lb. tub of Psyllium. Susan Wright: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium, one 30 lb. bag of Blue Buffalo. Janelle Kessler: two 30 lb. bags of Blue Buffalo. Tracy Fox: one bag of Missing Link Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat. Alyson Rossi: one 10 lb. case of unsalted peanuts. Anonymous donations: one gallon of Red Cell, two pop-up tents, one tub of Buggzo, one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium, one bottle of AminAvast, 60#.


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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