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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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Sneak Peek At 2016

2015 was a productive year in our work for the animals. Each and every day we worked hard to make a better world for captive big cats, elephants, bears, nonhuman primates and any wild animal forced to perform in a circus, give rides, suffer in a cramped cage on display, or be kept as someone's exotic "pet."

Since our inception in 1984, PAWS has always strived to raise the standards of care and welfare for captive wildlife, with our ARK 2000 sanctuary and its expansive natural habitats standing as a model for other facilities to follow. We have never waivered in our commitment to stopping the problem at its source, which is why we use our experience and expertise to initiate and help pass legislation to restrict and ultimately prohibit the use of wild animals in entertainment, roadside zoos, and as "pets." You play a critical part by taking action on important causes, and we hope you will continue to support our efforts in 2016.

Here is a quick look at some of what you can expect to see in 2016:

PAWS will return to the California State Capitol with another bill to ban the bullhook in the state. PAWS was a co-sponsor of SB 716, along with the Oakland Zoo and The Humane Society of the U.S., which Governor Jerry Brown chose not to sign for reasons that had nothing to do with the merits of the bill. However, we will offer a version of the bill that the Governor can sign in 2016, and keep the same timetable as expected with SB716.

PAWS will be lobbying for bullhook bans in even more places next year. The bullhook is a menacing weapon with a sharpened steel tip and hook at the end, and it is used to control elephants through pain and fear, particularly in circuses, rides and entertainment. It has no place in any city, county or state!

Save the date! PAWS will be presenting another great conference on captive wildlife November 11-13, 2016, in San Andreas, CA. Stay tuned for more details!

Look for the opening of the Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center at ARK 2000.

African elephant Lulu will be celebrating her 50th birthday.

PAWS has added a third Open House at ARK 2000 so even more people can learn about the animals we care for and the important issues surrounding their welfare in captivity and conservation in the wild. Tickets for this event are now on sale. Visit our Calendar of Events page for more information and to purchase tickets.

PAWS thanks each and every one of you for your compassion and generous support. You are the ones who truly change the world for captive exotic animals by giving them hope, safety and comfort in our sanctuaries and a light at the end of the tunnel with the passage of protective laws.

It is with heartfelt appreciation that we thank:

You, our supporters. You are the ones who make our work for the animals possible!

Dr. Jackie Gai, PAWS' long-time veterinarian, for her dedication to each and every animal, and for responding anytime, day or night, when a PAWS animal is in need.

Our dedicated and talented staff who put their hearts and souls into the care of every animal at PAWS.

Our committed volunteers, who are always there for us and for the animals.

The generous companies and individuals who provide in-kind services that help us help more animals in need.

Everyone who supports the care of our animals by making a contribution, donating needed items via the Amazon Wish List, and giving in other ways.

We wish you all the very best for the coming new year!


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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.

PAWS Remembers Pat Derby

It's hard to believe it's been three 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 »



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Five Ways The PAWS Elephants Are Starting The New Year Right

This is the time of year when people line up their New Year's resolutions and pledge to start the year off right. While the elephants we care for at PAWS may not subscribe to that notion, they certainly know how to take advantage of what nature offers them at the spacious ARK 2000 sanctuary. So here is our version of the top five ways that the elephants are starting the year right:

1. Taking advantage of seasonal opportunities.Living in a natural habitat means that the elephants' surroundings change with the seasons, offering different experiences, new opportunities for exploration, and variety in vegetation. Thanks to the steady rains, the lakes are filled with water (see photo above, or watch Toka stroll by the lake here), creating an opportunity for splashing and swimming, and there are plenty of mud holes for frolicking. The grass is growing long and lush, much to the elephants' delight. The elephants also tend to be more active in the cooler weather and rain.

2. Getting lots of exercise and eating a healthy diet. The elephants fully use the expansive space that ARK 2000 has to offer. This includes exploring their habitats and traversing the gentle, rolling hills as they seek out choice grasses and other preferred foods, including tree bark, branches and leaves. Almost all of their foraging activity early in the year will be devoted to finding and munching great big mouthfuls of tasty green grass. Their natural diet is supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.

3. Taking a mud bath. With the rain comes the opportunity for some great mud bathing, which the elephants seem to thoroughly enjoy. They kick and splash in the muddy water, roll around in it, and coat their bodies in mud. Of course, mud has the beneficial effect of protecting their skin from the sun, elements and biting insects, and keeping it in good condition. Click here to watch Asian bull elephant Nicholas roll in the mud!

4. Getting enough rest. Some of the elephants will take a nap in the afternoon (in addition to their overnight rest). You might spot Prince, Maggie, Gypsy or Toka lying down for a short snooze, especially on a sunny day.

5. Making important choices. Choice is essential to an elephant's well-being. The large size of the elephant habitats at ARK 2000 allow the elephants to choose where they want to go, what they want to eat, and what they want to do and who they want to do it with. For example, Maggie and Lulu tend to pal around together, happy to forage on grass, whereas Mara likes to strike off on her own, usually to search out leafy tree branches. Thika and Toka at times prefer to keep their distance from one another, and they now have the space and the choice to do just that.

Thanks to our supporters, the elephants and all the wild animals at our three sanctuaries enjoy the excellent care and natural conditions that most captive wild animals will never know. This is why PAWS not only rescues captive wildlife in need, but advocates for changes that will end the exploitation and abuse of captive exotic and wild animals.

We hope that you will support our efforts in 2016!


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PAWS keepers are very thankful for their new, "experienced" trucks.



Your Support In Action!

Thanks to everyone who so generously donated to PAWS last month on #GivingTuesday. This annual event, which takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, benefited the animals at PAWS by raising enough money to purchase two used trucks that were very much needed for animal care and property maintenance at ARK 2000. PAWS President Ed Stewart was pleased to find two older model, Ford F250 diesel trucks for sale in Calaveras County. As you can see in the above photo, the PAWS animal care staff is very happy to have new wheels!


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Meet The 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: Zeppo


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


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Thank you January

Amazon "Wish List" Donors

Sandra Grignon: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Patricia L. Connelly: one case of copy paper, three brass shut-off valves, one 30 lb. bag of Blue Buffalo, one bag of zip ties, one box of gloves, size large. Marty St. Aubin: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. The Gottschalk's: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Mary Wagnon: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium, one bottle AminAvast, 50#. Michele Smith: one bottle ofCosequinDS 132#. Lisa Matlage: two gallons of Optima 365, four bottles CosequinDS, 132#. Melissa Morgan: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat. Lisa V. Benson: one 48-pack of AA batteries. Tricia Downey: one 40 lb. case of oranges. Alice C. Witt: two gallons of Optima 365. Peggy Buckner: one 20 lb. tub of Psyllium. Janet Nakao: two bottles ofAzodyl, 90#. Kathleen Morrison: two 40 lb. cases of oranges purchased in memory of Angus A. MorrisonVictoria Linder: one bottle Emcelle Tocopherol (liquid Vit. E), 1000ml. Anonymous donors: two 24" garden rakes, two gallons Red Cell, one shovel for the elephant barns, one 30 lb. bag of Blue Buffalo.


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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