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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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Above: African elephant Mara grazes on a hillside.


How Grazing in the Grass

Benefits Captive Elephants

The winter and early spring rains in Calaveras County produced an abundance of tall, green grass at ARK 2000. The elephants spend long hours munching on this rich and bountiful delicacy as they traverse their spacious, natural habitats. We intuitively know that fresh vegetation is good for elephants, but what exactly are the benefits of these dietary components?

Green, leafy vegetation is an excellent source of nutrients including vitamin E, a critically important component of elephant nutrition that contributes to a healthy immune system, and healthy skin, muscle and heart function. The very act of grazing has multiple benefits including reinforcement of social bonds, strengthening muscles, and engaging the mind and body in meaningful activity.

The tip of an elephant's trunk is finely coordinated, strong, and shows remarkable dexterity when manipulating objects. When grazing, elephants tend to gather a bundle of grass with roots and soil attached to it. Each elephant has his or her own unique way of eating grass, as distinctive as the individual's personality. Maggie places a bunch of grass in just the right spot in her mouth, and uses her teeth to "snip" off the roots, letting them fall to ground before chewing and swallowing the leafy part of the grass. Toka will sometimes hold her grass bundles close to the ground and use one foot to break off the some of the root ball before chewing the rest. Gypsy taps her grass bundle against her leg or a tree to dislodge soil before eating. Nicholas (above left) not only loves to graze, but on occasion likes to wear clumps of grass on his head!

In nature, wild elephants may spend up to 80% of their day foraging for food and water. Guided by seasonal availability, as well as cultural wisdom passed down through generations, elephants are specially adapted to take advantage of whatever vegetation is available to satisfy their nutritional requirements. After the rainy season when grass is abundant, elephants consume large amounts of it. In dry seasons, elephants still consume grass, but also eat more tree bark, leaves, branches, and other "woody" plant material.

Sadly, in many captive elephant facilities, grass is either sparse or non-existent. In these places, elephants subsist on hay, pellets, vegetables and fruit provided by human keepers. If grass does exist near elephant enclosures, it is usually for the purpose of making the area aesthetically pleasing to the zoo visitor. Trees, plants and grass inside the enclosures are typically surrounded by electrified "hot wire" to prevent the elephants from eating them. Not so at PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary, where every habitat has a variety of seasonal grasses, trees and other year-round vegetation for the elephants to enjoy to their hearts' content. In addition, PAWS elephants are also provided with a variety of browse, fruits, vegetables, pellets and hay to ensure that all of their nutritional needs are met.

WATCH VIDEO: Click here to watch African elephants Toka and Thika grazing in their habitat.


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Above: Maggie a few days after her dental work.


Animal Care at PAWS:

African Elephant Maggie Undergoes

Major Dental Procedure

By Jackie Gai, DVM

Performing Animal Welfare Society Veterinarian

An important part of caring for the wild animals at PAWS is maintaining dental health. When your patient is an elephant who requires a major dental procedure, it becomes a task of major proportions. Two months ago, 36-year-old African elephant Maggie was examined under general anesthesia for treatment of an impacted molar tooth in the lower right side of her mouth. This procedure, which took place at PAWS' ARK 2000, involved a team of over 25 experienced elephant care experts from across the U.S., including nine veterinarians, one dentist who normally treats humans, three registered veterinary technicians, and members of PAWS' elephant staff team. Under the experienced guidance of the Colyer Institute, a non-profit organization specializing in the treatment of dental disease in elephants and other wild animals, Maggie was safely and expertly anesthetized and part of her malformed molar tooth was removed.

Months of intense preparation were required for this procedure, including gathering hundreds of pounds of specialized equipment and supplies. Using reward-based positive reinforcement methods, PAWS' Elephant Manager Brian Busta, President and Co-founder Ed Stewart, and our expert team of elephant keepers trained Maggie for several behaviors that were essential for proper positioning and to help her stay calm during anesthesia induction and recovery.

Dental disease is common in captive elephants and if untreated can even lead to loss of life in severe cases. Tusks, which are actually modified incisor teeth, may crack, break or split and become infected, requiring partial removal or complete extraction. Molar teeth, which normally are shed and replaced as elephants age, may become impacted and deformed, leading to abscesses and eventually the inability to chew properly. There are a number of theories as to why these problems occur in molar teeth. Some think that the improper nutrition elephants may have received as young calves may play a role in the development of dental disease later in life as adults. Maggie was born in Zimbabwe in 1980. She was captured for the zoo trade when she was just one year old, after her mother and other family members were killed in a cull (the systematic killing of adult elephants by the government in order to control populations encroaching upon human civilization).

Due to the number of people involved, the amount of equipment necessary, and the time required, this procedure was very expensive, costing PAWS approximately $70,000. While considered successful in that part of Maggie's abnormal tooth was removed, we unfortunately discovered that Maggie's dental disease is more complicated than first thought. Maggie will likely require at least two more anesthetized procedures for advanced imaging (digital X-rays of her jaw), and to attempt to correct or extract the rest of her impacted and malformed molar teeth.

Throughout this experience, both before and after her procedure, Maggie's dental problems have had no effect on her appetite or her ability to chew and digest her food and she has been as active as ever.

If you would like to support the health care of Maggie and the other wild and exotic animals at PAWS, please make a contribution today by clicking here.

Other articles by Dr. Gai:


Read Dr. Jackie Gai's complete report here.

Meet PAWS' veterinary staff by clicking here.

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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 Cofounder Pat Derby:

Forever Our Inspiration

PAWS Co-founder Pat Derby would have celebrated another birthday on June 7th. Sadly, the world lost this fearless leader for the animals to cancer in 2013. Pat was a former Hollywood animal trainer who first championed the cause of performing wild animals nearly 40 years ago when she published a tell-all book, The Lady and Her Tiger. She exposed the behind-the-scenes abuse of wild animals used in entertainment, which, not surprisingly, brought her Hollywood career to end. But it marked the beginning of her heart's work of rescuing and caring for captive wildlife, and advocating for an end to the use of wild and exotic animals in entertainment.

Each and every day we think about Pat and all that she, together with her partner, PAWS Co-founder and President Ed Stewart, have accomplished for captive wildlife. Her legacy lives on in the 2,300-acre, natural habitat ARK 2000 sanctuary, where, today, wild animals like elephants, bears and tigers live in dignity and peace.

This year, PAWS will be opening the Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center, a comprehensive veterinary facility that will better serve the animals we care for at the sanctuary. It is a fitting and vital tribute to Pat and her unending love for animals.

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 »




Conference Registration

Is Now Open!

Registration is now being taken for the PAWS 2016 International Captive Wildlife Conference, November 11-13, 2016. This premier global summit will address the confinement and use of exotic and wild animals - with a special focus on elephants, bears and big cats - and features exceptional speakers from the fields of scientific research, conservation, law, and animal welfare, care and policy.

This year's conference will be held at a venue in San Andreas, California, home to PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary. Attendees will be invited to tour the sanctuary on Sunday, November 13. The tour will be led by PAWS' President Ed Stewart.

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.

Visit the PAWS Calendar of Events page and follow the link to registration information, list of featured speakers, and conference program. Be sure to register early — this conference is sure to fill up quickly!

We hope to see you in San Andreas in November!


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Update: SB 1062

Bill to Ban Bullhooks in California

SB 1062, the bill introduced by state senator Ricardo Lara to ban the use of cruel bullhooks on elephants, cleared three important Assembly committees in June. (Thank you to all the Assembly members whose votes have taken us this far!) The bill now moves to the full Assembly for a vote (most likely in August); it has already passed the California Senate. If passed by the Assembly, SB 1062 would be sent to the Governor to sign into law.

The bullhook is a weapon resembling a fireplace poker, with a sharpened steel tip and hook at the end. Handlers use the bullhook to forcefully strike, prod, and hook elephants on sensitive parts of their bodies, controlling these very intelligent and sensitive animals through pain and fear. Today there is a safer and more humane way of managing elephants that uses positive reinforcement training, food treats and praise. With this method, keepers provide a full range of husbandry and veterinary care without the use of intimidation and painful punishment. No AZA-accredited zoo in California uses bullhooks, and we have never used a bullhook at PAWS. The cities of Los Angeles and Oakland have banned the bullhook, and San Francisco has prohibited the use of all performing wild animals.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this bill, showed up at meetings, and contacted their representatives. Stay tuned for more on SB 1062 and how California residents can take action.

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

Read Senator Lara's SB 1062 press release here.


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Meet Jack the Bear

In 2007 PAWS received a request for help from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which contacted us seeking a permanent home for a recently captured American Black Bear. The bear had been deemed non-releasable due to problematic interactions with humans and was scheduled to be euthanized within a week if a suitable home could not be found. PAWS' co-founders Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby agreed to take the bear who would later be named Jack.

Because Jack's need for placement was urgent, Ed and a crew made up of staff and volunteers immediately got to work remodeling a large habitat for him at our Galt sanctuary. The project included building a swimming pool for the bear. Jack, who was estimated to be around seven years old, arrived at PAWS and began to settle into his new home. As is common with so many wild animals forced into captivity, he never seemed completely content or satisfied in his Galt sanctuary home. Pat and Ed dreamed of giving him more room to roam, in a habitat that would provide him more of what he was missing from his former life in the wild. That dream became reality when construction on the Bob Barker Bear Habitat was completed at ARK 2000 in the summer of 2011.

In October, Jack was moved from our Galt sanctuary to his new California foothills home in San Andreas. Jack's two-acre habitat was built in an oak forest - full of grass and natural vegetation, fallen logs, rocks and a custom pool - providing him with opportunities to express natural bear behaviors such as exploration, foraging, digging, and climbing. Jack enjoys the natural foods available to him which vary with the seasons. When acorns are plentiful he shakes the oak trees to make the tasty nuts fall down to the ground where they are eagerly devoured. In early spring, when the tender green grass sprouts, Jack grazes to his heart's content. (Yes, bears eat grass!)

In addition to the abundant, naturally-available foods in his habitat, PAWS' dedicated staff of animal caregivers also provide Jack with a variety of protein, vegetables, and fruits each day. Part of his diet is cleverly hidden in multiple locations throughout the spacious enclosure so he can use his keen sense of smell to forage and find these hidden treats.

On hot summer days Jack, like all the bears living at ARK 2000, swims and splashes in his pool. After a satisfying swim in the cool water he can usually be found napping on a thick bed of leaves in the shade of a large oak tree. At night Jack can choose to sleep indoors in his cozy den or remain outside under the stars.

Jack's neighbors at ARK 2000 are Boo Boo and Winston (read about them here), two rescued, captive-born male black bears purchased as babies by individuals who tried to keep them as pets.

Human-wildlife conflicts frequently end in the death of an animal. Fortunately, Jack's life was spared. Unfortunately, he will never again be able to roam freely in the wild where he belongs. The best we can do is to provide him with as much of a natural life as is possible in captivity.

You make our work of providing a better life for Jack and all our rescued and retired wild animals possible. Thank you.


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Thank you June Amazon

"Wish List" Donors

Patricia L. Connelly: one spool of commercial grade trimmer line; four 1 liter bottles of hand sanitizer. Carole Bognar: one scoop shovel. Nina Dillingham: two 32 oz. Wheat Germ; one 20 lb. Psyllium. Kitty Hawk: two cases of unsalted peanuts in the shell. William Fedun: one box of nitrile gloves, medium. Jennifer Clarke: one EZ-Up tent. Angela S. Maturino: one 10 lb. Psyllium. Mary Harrison: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link, Ultimate Skin & Coat; one 10 lb. bag of Missing Link Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat. Agostino Ippolito: one case of unsalted peanuts in the shell. Alyson Rossi: one scoop shovel. Lois Wagenseil: one 5 lb. Psyllium; one box of nitrile gloves; one 24" garden rake. Dan Fitchie: one set of Motorola walkie talkies. Sharon Elkin: one 5 lb. Psyllium. Sally Holloway: one bottle of CosequinDS, 250#. Anonymous Donors: one case of popcorn kernels; three boxes of nitrile gloves (s,m,lg); one gallon of Red Cell.



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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