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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 provides 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.
Learn More »


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.


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Breaking News:

Three U.S. Zoos Proposing to

Import 18 African Elephants

Despite the life-long suffering caused when elephants in the wild are rounded up, captured and removed from their homeland to restock the dwindling supply of elephants in U.S. zoos, the Dallas Zoo, Omaha Zoo, and Sedgwick County Zoo (Kansas) want to import 18 elephants from Swaziland. The zoos are using the same tired public relations ploy, saying the elephants would otherwise be killed. The last AZA accredited zoo that made this claim was later exposed for having lied to the public: The import was nothing more than a commercial sale. Sadly, there is no evidence that the zoos or Swaziland government attempted to find a safe location for the elephants in Africa, even though this would have caused the least amount of distress and allowed them to live out their lives in a natural habitat. The threat of poaching is, of course, real, but elephant populations in some areas are actually increasing because of actions taken to protect them. And that's where zoos should be putting their millions - into protecting elephants rather than raiding the wild for more elephants to put in zoos.

Worldwide, zoos have never stopped capturing elephants from the wild for display, claiming to educate the public about the need for conservation, yet the same problems for wild elephants persist and are even worsening. Obviously, zoos are not doing what they think they are.

We can't say it enough: The answer is not to remove elephants from the wild but to protect them where they live.

PAWS strongly objects to this import, and we urge you to stand up against it as well. This import is bad for elephants and has nothing to do with conserving elephants or any other species. Its sole purpose is to populate U.S. zoos. The capture of these highly sensitive, intelligent and self-aware animals for lifetime display in zoos is cruel and archaic and should be relegated to the past. We will be sending you information soon on how you can oppose this cruel action. Stay tuned!


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Click on the photo above to watch Asian elephant Gypsy dust and roll in a fresh pile of dirt.

"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 truckloads 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 this short video of Asian elephant Gypsy we think you'll understand why!

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.

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 more than two 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 »


A Message Of Thanks

From PAWS' President Ed Stewart

I am very grateful for the outpouring of concern expressed by our friends and colleagues during the recent wildfire that burned areas of Calaveras and Amador counties. The ARK 2000 sanctuary is situated in Calaveras County. The sanctuary was never under an evacuation order, but we were well prepared in case the fire came close. The animals and staff at ARK 2000 remained safe and calm, as the fire passed miles away.

Ensuring the health, safety and welfare of our animals is always our priority. PAWS has an emergency plan on file with Cal Fire and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, and we were in regular contact with local fire officials to monitor the situation and plan ccordingly.

Every animal-holding facility has to be prepared for fire, floods, earthquakes (no, ARK 2000 is not located anywhere near the San Andreas fault line), hurricanes and other natural disasters particular to their area. The key is to be prepared.

The ARK 2000 sanctuary is located on rolling grassland dotted with oak trees, unlike the steep canyons and pine forests found in the areas where the fire burned out of control. The late Pat Derby and I purchased this property because it could be defended against fire, even in the face of drought. We both wanted the rescued and retired animals we care for to experience a more natural environment, and that is what we have achieved. Of course, this comes with responsibilities that tiny, circus-type facilities don't have to consider, and we take those very seriously. Each year we strive to improve upon our already high level of fire preparedness, investing a substantial amount of funds into keeping the animals and staff as safe as possible in this natural environment. (Read more about PAWS' fire preparedness here.)

Sanctuary Manager Brian Busta and I cannot say enough about the dedication and commitment our staff displayed during this difficult time, showing up to work every day even though some of them had been evacuated from their homes or suffered their own devastating losses.

PAWS eagerly engaged with our community to assist in animal rescue and relief efforts in the aftermath of the fire. Our veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Gai, has visited animal shelters and evacuation centers, providing food, medical care and simple necessities such as dog leashes. (Read Dr. Gai's report in our September 2015 newsletter here.)

I want to thank all of our supporters who offered their help and kind thoughts. I am also grateful to the local community and businesses, and to the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries accredited sanctuaries and Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoos, that genuinely offered or provided assistance. We are grateful to Cal Fire and to all the brave firefighters and emergency responders for their support and protection of our community.

While we at PAWS were fortunate, many people were not. We urge you to donate generously to the organizations that are providing fire relief and support.

Ed Stewart

PAWS President and Co-Founder


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PAWS Advocacy Updates and

Ways You Can Take Action for Animals

When PAWS President Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby founded PAWS in 1984, it was the only animal organization with a comprehensive captive wildlife program. Ed shot some of the first-ever undercover video exposing the abuse of elephants in circuses, showing elephants buckling under the blow of the bullhook.

Many people know PAWS primarily for our work in providing sanctuary for captive wildlife in need, but advocacy is a critical part of our mission. Without it, we would never see an end to the suffering of wild animals used in entertainment, roadside zoos, and those kept as exotic "pets."

Read about PAWS' advocacy work below.


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San Francisco Bans

Wild Animal Performances

San Francisco is officially the largest U.S. city to ban all performances by wild or exotic animals. The ordinance, which was unanimously passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, has been formally adopted. Supervisor Katy Tang introduced the measure.

PAWS is proud to have contributed to this very important effort, which was spearheaded by the League of Humane Voters - California. Ed Stewart spoke at the Public Safety Committee meeting early in April, encouraging members to support this important action.


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For PAWS, banning the bullhook is personal. We've seen its terrible mark left on the elephants who arrive at our sanctuary.


Governor Brown Does Not Sign SB 716

Oct. 3, 2015 - PAWS is disappointed that Governor Brown chose not sign Senate Bill 716 to ban the bullhook in California, despite vast support in the legislature and among compassionate Californians.

The Governor, who has signed many important bills for animals, did not comment on the merits of bullhook use, and his action cannot be construed as an endorsement of this cruel device. SB 716 was one of nine bills vetoed by the Governor over his concern about their “particularization of criminal behavior” relative to prison overcrowding and sentencing reform.

PAWS co-sponsored SB 716 together with the Oakland Zoo and The Humane Society of the U.S. We will return next year with a version of the bill that Governor Brown can sign, and keep the same timetable as expected with SB 716. Our sincere thanks to SB 716 author Senator Ricardo Lara for his leadership on this important elephant welfare issue.

We realize that many of you will be frustrated at this news. Please remember that Governor Brown has a remarkable record on animal issues, including banning the shark fin trade and hunting with hounds. This is his first disappointing action concerning animals. We urge you to focus your energy on preparing for next year and making California the first state in the nation to ban the bullhook.


Above: Senator Ricardo Lara addresses the crowd

at a rally for the elephants held in Sacramento.


Governor Brown Signs Elephant Protection Bill AB 96

Oct. 4, 2015 - Victory! PAWS is very happy to report that Governor Jerry Brown has signed AB 96, banning the sale of ivory and rhino horns in California. Thank you to everyone who took action!

Assembly Bill 96, introduced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and co-authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, bans the sale of ivory and rhino horns in California.

California is the second largest market for the sale of illegal ivory in the United States, and these sales are estimated to have doubled over the past eight years.


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Thank You! - September 2015

Amazon "Wish List" Donors

Patricia Connelly: three gallons Red Cell, two bags of Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coat, one 24 inch Drum Tilting Fan, one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium, three Hog Scoops (shovels), three bags Natural Balance dry cat food. Alyson Rossi: one bottle Azodyl, one box gloves, one 5 lb. tub psyllium. Alison Daddo: one case of unsalted peanuts. Laura Tracy Hawkins: one gallon Red Cell, one bag Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat. Lisa McCauley: one bag Natural Balance dry cat food, one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Carol Haft: one case of unsalted peanuts, one bottle Cosequin DS 132#, one box AA batteries, two boxes of gloves. Michele Smith: one bottle Cosequin DS 132#. Laura Tracy Hawkins: one bag Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coat. Silvia M. Orellana: one gallon Chlorhexidine Solution. Myron Lenning: one 24 in. Drum Tilting Fan. Mary Kugler: one 24 in. Drum Tilting Fan. Jim Grant and Peg Chapla: one 20 lb. tub Psyllium. Silvia M. Orellana: one bottle Red Cell. Kathy Shimata: one Hog Scoop (shovel). Barbara Moran: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Diane Honeysett: one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium. Robbi Henle: one bag Missing Link Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat, one bottle Red Cell, one bag Natural Balance cat food. Pamela Mattson: one bottle AminAvast, one bag dry cat food, one 10 lb. tub Psyllium. Anonymous: three bottles Red Cell, 1 bag Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat, one push broom.


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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