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Meet the African Lions


Donate in Memory of Denny

Denny (African lion, Panthera leo)

PAWS is deeply saddened to share the news that Denny the African lion passed away on October 19, 2014, at the age of 17 years.

Denny, Pheiffer and Max, African lion cubs all born in early to mid 1997, arrived at PAWS in December of 1997. Purchased by individuals from pet stores as babies, all were victims of the exotic animal trade. Each had been declawed and defanged, and each suffered from malformed joints and had permanent damage to all four paws as a result of the way they were declawed.

Denny was confiscated by the Detroit Police Department's Harbormaster Division on Belle Isle when they discovered his owner jogging with him in the park. Denny was sent to the Detroit Zoological Park on September 14, 1997.

Pheiffer and Max were rescued by the Michigan Anti-Cruelty Society and also taken to the Detroit Zoological Park on September 24, 1997. Detroit Zoo sent the three cubs to PAWS in December of that year.

Max, the most fragile of the three, died nearly 10 years ago. Pfeiffer died on August 27, 2014. She was 17 years old. Denny continued to live at our Galt, California, sanctuary until his death on Oct. 19, 2014.

View video of Denny and Pheiffer. CLICK HERE




Donate in Memory of Pfeiffer


Pfeiffer (African lion, Panthera leo)


African lioness Pfeiffer passed away on August 27, 2014. She was 17 years old. 


Pfeiffer was a cub when she came to PAWS from the Detroit Zoo in 1997. She had been surrendered to the Detroit Police Department by her private owner when she was only three months old. The police department took her to the Michigan Anti-Cruelty Society who turned her over to the Detroit Zoo the next day. Zoo veterinarians examined her and found that she had been declawed and defanged, her leg joints were malformed due to nutritional deficiency, and she was very lame on her left front foot. Interestingly, two male cubs found their way to the Detroit Zoo around the same time as Pfeiffer. All three lions were about the same age, and all three had been illegal pets that had been confiscated or surrendered to law enforcement in Detroit.


The Detroit Zoo contacted us and PAWS agreed to provide a permanent home and lifelong care to the three young lions. We welcomed Pfeiffer, Denny and Max to our Galt sanctuary in December 1997. Max, the most fragile of the three, came to us with a variety of health issues and died prematurely of kidney failure more than 10 years ago. Denny and Pfeiffer continued to live together at our Galt sanctuary.


Like Pfeiffer, Denny had also been de-clawed and had deformities of his paws and legs, which made walking and running difficult for both lions. PAWS co-founder Ed Stewart built a special enclosure that would accommodate the lions' mobility problems, and filled it with soft dirt, thick Bermuda grass, and many shady trees to lounge under.


Through later X-rays it was discovered that Pfeiffer and Denny both shared a very rare birth defect known as syndactyly, which causes severe deformities of the bones of the paws. This condition can lead to arthritis and pain in the feet and legs. Since both Pfeiffer and Denny shared the same birth defect, and were about the same age, it is likely that they were brother and sister. Max may also have been a sibling, although he did not have the same paw deformities.


It is almost impossible to talk about Pfeiffer without mentioning Denny. The two lions were nearly inseparable. Denny always stayed close to Pfeiffer, protecting and watching over her. In fact, it was a change in Denny's behavior that first alerted us that something was wrong. In early July, his appetite decreased and he began guarding Pfeiffer more than usual - never leaving her side. A few days later, Pfeiffer's appetite also dropped and she became lethargic. Something was definitely wrong. PAWS' veterinarian Dr. Gai performed a physical examination and found that Pfeiffer had fluid in her chest and lungs.


Over the course of the next six weeks, PAWS' dedicated keeper staff made sure that she was comfortable, went to great lengths to encourage her to eat, and made sure that she took her medications well hidden inside pieces of meat. PAWS veterinarians worked diligently to identify the cause of her ever-increasing labored breathing, and to administer medications that helped alleviate her symptoms. As her condition continued to decline, the difficult and heart-wrenching decision was made to humanely euthanize her to prevent her from suffering.


A necropsy, attended by Dr. Gai, was performed at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, where it was discovered that Pfeiffer had a very aggressive, untreatable form of cancer in her lungs and chest cavity.


Pfeiffer was a noble and dignified lioness, whose wild spirit was always present. Her intense, watchful gaze never missed a thing that happened in her world. She had a playful side too, and would wrestle and snuggle with Denny, sometimes ending up sprawled out on her back, asleep in the sun. She was a good friend and faithful companion to Denny, and she will be deeply missed by everyone who had the honor of caring for her.



Donate in Memory of Sheba


Sheba (African lion, Panthera leo)

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Sheba.

Sheba was born at a breeding facility in 1993, where she and her brother were sold as pets to a man who kept them in his house in Detroit. When the male lion became too difficult for his owner to handle, he was euthanized. Sheba eventually became more difficult to handle and her owner decided to surrendered her to the Michigan Humane Society. The Humane Society contacted us and we agreed to take her.

Sheba lived at our Galt sanctuary for 15 years before being moved to her new habitat at ARK 2000 where she became next-door-neighbor to Camba and the other rescued Bolivian circus lions.

Sheba's first steps into her spacious new habitat at ARK 2000 was an emotional experience for PAWS' directors Pat Derby and Ed Stewart. They had long dreamed of a large habitat and companions for this gentle, sweet lion.

Sheba's mobility gradually decreased over the past two years, but she still enjoyed exploring her grassy habitat. Her favorite spot was resting under a large oak tree where she could look out over the other lion habitats, and where she could watch birds, squirrels, and turkeys pass by. Ed built a dirt pathway and ramp which made it easier for her to walk up and down the hill from her den to her tree. She received a variety of arthritis medications daily, hidden in pieces of her favorite meat.

In late April 2015, Sheba's condition began to decline. Her appetite began to wane, and she was having greater difficulty walking. Medications were adjusted, but ultimately nothing could stop the progression of her symptoms. On May 4, the difficult but compassionate decision was made to euthanize her. Sheba passed from this life surrounded by those who loved her, at age of 23 - a long life for a lion.

A necropsy performed by veterinary pathologists at U.C. Davis revealed that in addition to arthritis, Sheba also had cancer in her kidney, adrenal gland, and lungs.

This magnificent lioness will be truly missed by all who were fortunate enough to meet and care for her.


The cost of care for the Bolivia lions has been assumed by Animal Defenders International (ADI).
This generous gesture is unprecedented in the history of PAWS, and is greatly appreciated. After
rescue, the costs of care are usually left for PAWS to fund. Thank you ADI for your commitment

to these lions.

View the Bolivia lions' story here >>>



December 11, 2012

Daktari: In Memoriam

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that our dear lion, Daktari, has passed away. In early October, Dr. Gai diagnosed him with congestive heart failure. The medications she prescribed, carefully hidden in favorite food treats, made him feel better, delayed the inevitable, and gave him some quality time. Our keepers doted on him, feeding him all of his favorites, installing a special drinking fountain, and making a great big "nest" of hay every night. Bambek, and especially Simba, were always close by and all three boys slept in a big cozy pile every night.

Daktari's condition had gradually worsened over the past week or so, and he was no longer getting relief from his medications. We made the difficult but compassionate decision to put him to sleep, and Dr. Gai did that yesterday morning. He passed away peacefully and without fear or distress. A necropsy is being performed at UC Davis.

Daktari had a wonderful and rich life at PAWS thanks to the efforts of everyone at Animal Defenders International who brought the former circus lions Daktari, Bambek, Simba and Camba to us from Bolivia and have generously paid for their care here at PAWS.

Thank you to everyone at ADI, Jorja Fox and Bob Barker.

Rest in peace Daktari.


Donate to PAWS in memory of Daktari, here.



*PLEASE NOTE: Adoptions are in name only. The animal does not actually go home with you. Donations made via animal adoption are used for the care, feeding and maintenance of the animals.

Performing Animal Welfare Society
PO Box 849, Galt, CA 95632

209/745-2606 office/sanctuary
209/745-1809 fax

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