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This program is limited. Contact PAWS' Director of Programs Kim Gardner at

916-539-5305 for information on available dates in 2024.




"Seeing the Elephant" Saturdays

An all-day, educational visit to PAWS' ARK 2000 Sanctuary

During the California Gold Rush, the Forty-Niners seeking to make their fortune embraced the idea of “seeing the elephant.” This was not an actual elephant, but a representation of the great perils and challenges they would face as they traveled west. Those turning back claimed they had seen the “elephant’s tracks” or the “elephant’s tail,” and confessed they’d seen more than enough of the “animal.” For Gold Rushers, the elephant symbolized the high cost of their endeavor and, at the end of their journey, an unequaled experience and adventure of a lifetime.

Visit PAWS’ 2,300-acre ARK 2000 sanctuary in the heart of California’s Gold Country for our unique “Seeing the Elephant” educational experience. We are located in the Gold Rush town of San Andreas in Calaveras County, where “seeing the elephant” is once again an unequaled experience.



“Seeing the Elephant” educational visits are offered on select Saturdays for a limited number of people.


What to Expect


Participants will observe the elephants as they roam their spacious, natural habitats set amid the rolling hills of California’s Gold Country. At the same time, you will hear about their life histories, individual personalities, behaviors, and overall care and management.You also will learn about the stark differences between elephants’ natural lives and their experiences in captivity. The program includes a demonstration of positive-reinforcement training (Protected Contact) with one of our bull elephants and a visit to our state-of-the-art Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center.


At the end of the day, you will have gained unique insights into the amazing lives of elephants and the importance of conserving these remarkable animals in the wild for generations to come.


• Check-in for Saturday’s “Seeing the Elephant” visit begins promptly at 8:45 a.m. at the front gate of the ARK 2000 sanctuary.

• Meet our senior management team who will guide you through the sanctuary.

• Embark on an “insider’s” tour of the elephant habitats and learn all about our elephants.

• A plant-based picnic lunch will be served. Dine outdoors (weather permitting) with a view of the elephants.

• Later in the day, visit our rescued tigers and bears, hear the animals’ stories, and learn about their journey to ARK 2000.


Donation price: $450 per person




To make your pre-paid reservation for a "Seeing the Elephant" Saturday, contact Kim Gardner, PAWS' Director of Programs, at (916) 539-5305 or email kimkleingardner@yahoo.com.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How often do the “Seeing the Elephant” Getaways take place?
A. For future dates, please check with Kim Gardner, PAWS' Director of Programs, at (916) 539-5305 or email kimkleingardner@yahoo.com.

Q. How long does the visit last?
A. The day begins at 9 a.m. and ends around 3 p.m.

Q. How do I get to ARK 2000?
A. Approximately one week prior to your scheduled visit you’ll receive additional confirmation, directions and other necessary information.

Q. Is there much walking?
A. Yes, there is a lot of walking on varied terrain including hills, so please wear comfortable shoes. At times you will also be driving your car.
Q. How many people take part?
A. Groups are generally limited to 20 participants.

Q. Do you serve lunch?
A. You will be served a plant-based lunch and dine outdoors (weather permitting) with a view of the elephants.

Q. Can I touch the elephants, tigers or bears?
A. No. PAWS is a true sanctuary, meaning we do not buy, sell, breed, trade, or make our animals perform. There is never any contact between the public and any of our animals and visitors must always stay a safe distance from them.

Q. Can I take pictures or video?
A. Please bring your cameras, binoculars, video. No drones allowed!

Q. What else should I bring?
A. Sunblock, hat, umbrella, water, comfortable walking shoes, and weather appropriate clothing.

Visits are rain or shine!

Q. Can I bring my young child?
A. Participants must be 15 years of age and older to attend.
Q. When can I bring my child to see the elephants?
A. PAWS has not yet restarted our Open House events that would be suitable for children.

Q. Can I smoke anywhere during the program?
A. NO. Due to the risk of fire, there is no smoking allowed anywhere on any PAWS property.


Q. Can I bring my pet?

Please leave your pets at home. We do not allow any pets on the property, including the parking lots!


Q. Are reservations required?
A. Yes. Pre-paid reservations are required and can be made by calling PAWS Director of Programs Kim Gardner at (916) 539-5305 or emailing kimkleingardner@yahoo.com.



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

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

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