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Meet the Bears

It costs approximately $18,000 per year to feed and care for one healthy bear.

$125 Annual Adoption*

Ben (Black Bear, Ursus americanus)

Ben is a black bear who was born in 2001. He arrived at ARK 2000 on August 10, 2012, and is now living in a 2-acre habitat with trees, grass and his own pool — one of six habitats designed specifically for bears in the Bob Barker Bear Habitat at ARK 2000. Black bear Sampson is his next door neighbors.

Ben was relocated to PAWS from a private North Carolina ranch/tourist attraction where he had spent six years living in a 12x22-foot chain-link and cement enclosure. His interaction with others was limited to being gawked at by visitors and an occasional piece of bread tossed to him by a tourist.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ben by two concerned citizens and following more than a year of court battles, a judge finally ruled in Ben's favor. PAWS co-founder/director Ed Stewart accompanied Ben on his FedEx-donated flight to California — cheerfully dubbed "Bear Force One" by the flight crew.

View video of Ben here.





In Memoriam


Boo Boo (Black Bear, Ursus americanus)

January 1994-May 2023

Boo Boo, an American black bear, was born in a captive breeding compound in January 1994. He was taken from his mother when he was only two weeks old and sold as a "pet" to a family in Ohio. The family locked a chain around his neck and left him in their backyard. Young bears grow quickly, and soon the chain became embedded deep in Boo Boo’s neck. After discovering his plight, a good Samaritan bought him from the family, paid a veterinarian to surgically remove the chain, and reached out to PAWS seeking a home for this mistreated cub.


Boo Boo arrived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in December 1994 where he soon met Winston, another young black bear. The two cubs became best friends and lived together for the next 26 years.


In late May 2023, staff observed that Boo Boo had a soft cough after waking up in the morning, and sometimes after lying down for a nap during the day. PAWS' veterinarians prescribed medications to treat a respiratory infection, but because of his very advanced age also strongly suspected cancer or heart disease. So they began planning an anesthetized examination.


Despite the new cough, Boo Boo had an excellent appetite, was in good spirits, and got up every morning to explore his habitat for tasty treats scattered by his dedicated caregivers. Just a few days before his scheduled examination, Boo Boo passed away unexpectedly but peacefully in his sleep. A necropsy performed at U.C. Davis revealed that he had lung cancer.


Boo Boo will always be remembered for his calm and easy-going personality, his sweet tooth, and his love of leisure and relaxation. It was an honor to provide a good home for Boo Boo for so many years, and all who knew him will miss him always.


Watch a video of Boo Boo's rescue. Click here.

Boo Boo and Winston move to ARK 2000. View video here.

Watch Boo Boo and Winston in their ARK 2000 habitat. Click here.






$125 Annual Adoption*


Mack (Black Bear, Ursus americanus)

On August 16, 2016, a 3-legged yearling American black bear named Mack arrived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary. The young bear had spent the last year under the loving care of the veterinarians and staff at The Fund For Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, California.

Mack was captured by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife after he climbed a school yard fence, seeking human attention. Earlier, he had been spotted at a tree farm in the hills above Claremont, California, soliciting food from people. Only a few months old at the time, this little orphaned bear cub was missing part of his right hind leg. The injury – most likely the result of a snare (trap) – was completely healed at the time he was captured and he looked to be otherwise healthy. Because of Mack's injury, and the fact that he was very friendly with people, Fish and Wildlife officials decided he should not be released back into the wild.

Since his arrival, Mack has been settling in to his new home very well. He has a large pool to splash and play in, a cozy den, and a large grassy enclosure with a gently sloped hill and shady trees. Just as he has been learning about us, we have also been learning a lot about him. Mack appears to be a "night owl", preferring to nap during the day and being more active at night. Our 24-hour animal care staff see him playing in his pool at night, as well as exploring his habitat and resting on top of his grassy hill under the stars. He likes a variety of foods, but particular favorites are fish, grapes, avocado, dandelion greens and figs that grow on sanctuary grounds.

Mack is a gentle, playful bear who is full of energy and curiosity. The entire PAWS family is excited to welcome him to his forever home, and we look forward to watching him grow up with us.



In Memoriam

Winston (Black Bear, Ursus americanus)

Winston, one of PAWS' oldest and most beloved sanctuary residents passed away at the age of 28. Winston was an American black bear who was born in 1993 at a captive breeding compound in Ohio. Once identified only as "Bear #1530", Winston was kept illegally as a "pet" in North Carolina until local officials confiscated him. Although still young, he was confined with older, more aggressive bears and suffered a severe bite wound to his hip. When PAWS' co-founders Pat Derby and Ed Stewart learned of his predicament, they wholeheartedly offered him a permanent home. Winston was treated for the injury and transferred to our Galt sanctuary in 1995. He arrived limping and in poor condition.

Winston became best friend and lifelong companion to Boo Boo, another young black bear living with us at the time. The two bears had much in common, having both been bred for the exotic "pet" trade. In nature they would have remained with their protective mothers for at least a year and a half, learning essential survival skills. Instead they were taken from their mothers prematurely, sentenced to live in miserably inadequate conditions that affected both their mental and physical health in their early lives.

Winston and Boo Boo lived in Galt for many years, until PAWS' longtime friend and supporter, the legendary animal hero Bob Barker, made it possible for us to build a much larger bear habitat at ARK 2000. All of the bear enclosures are filled with soft soil, native grasses and shady oak trees, and all have pools and cozy dens. In December 2010, Winston and Boo Boo were moved from Galt to their spacious new home in the Bob Barker Bear Habitat. Here the two friends could roam their own piece of the wild California Sierra foothills, foraging for acorns, and enjoying the sights, smells, and sounds of nature.

Winston was healthy for most of his life, only needing medical support when he was in his twenties. He bounced back beautifully from major dental work in 2018, and thrived on a nutritious diet supplemented with vitamins and medications to treat arthritis. In June 2021, he began to show symptoms of a serious illness, and a thorough examination under anesthesia confirmed that Winston had liver cancer. PAWS' veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Gai, developed a treatment plan to keep Winston comfortable and pain-free, and his dedicated caregivers provided extra TLC and attention. Unfortunately, Winston's cancer worsened rapidly and aggressively and the heartbreaking but most compassionate decision was made to perform euthanasia to prevent suffering.

Winston passed from this life on July 15, 2021, surrounded by many who loved him dearly. His eternal optimism, beaming smile, and patience will always be remembered. We will miss him tremendously.


Winston and Boo Boo move to ARK 2000. View video here.

Watch Boo Boo and Winston in their ARK 2000 habitat. Click here.

Watch a video of Winston's arrival in 1995. Click here.




*PLEASE NOTE: Adoptions are symbolic 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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