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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.
Learn More »





PAWS Featured in Kevin Nealon's

"Hiking with Kevin" Series on YouTube

The newest “Hiking with Kevin” episode – a weekly YouTube feature created by comedian and actor Kevin Nealon – was filmed at PAWS’ ARK 2000 sanctuary in February and includes PAWS friend and Oscar Award-winning actress Kim Basinger and PAWS President Ed Stewart. In each “Hiking with Kevin” episode Nealon interviews celebrities while hiking with them, talking about a range of subjects and often providing entertaining insights. You not only get to learn more about the talented Kim Basinger, you’ll see some stunning images of ARK 2000 and the animals we care for.

PAWS thanks Kevin Nealon, a great friend to animals and a long-time friend and supporter of PAWS, for choosing ARK 2000 as the site for this episode. We also thank Kim Basinger, a cherished friend and long-time PAWS supporter, for all that she’s done for us. We also want to recognize actor and filmmaker Matthew Modine, the other man behind the cameras!

Click here to watch!

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PAWS' March 2020 newsletter features an update on rescued tigers Czar (above), Tessa and Mungar.

Read their story and more here.

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PAWS' February 2020 newsletter features African Elephant Toka who

turns 50 this year.

Read her story and more here.

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African Elephant Mara:

30 Years at PAWS!

January marked a very important anniversary: It was 30 years ago that African elephant Mara arrived at PAWS. She is the sanctuary’s longest-term resident and remains one of our more colorful personalities, known for her fun-loving spirit, athleticism, and high energy. She loves to push on trees, eat leafy branches, and dig deep holes in the ground to create mud wallows and dusting areas – just as wild elephants do. Mara is also a survivor, as you’ll see from her story.

Mara was born into an extended elephant family in Kruger National Park in South Africa where she would have been raised by her mother, grandmother, aunts and older female siblings. She would have played with other calves, explored a rich and complex natural world, and learned how to behave in elephant society. Her family would have protected her no matter what – but they were no match for what was to come.

When Mara was less than two years old, she witnessed her mother and other adult family members killed in a cull - a government sanctioned slaughter of elephants to reduce the size of a population. The traumatized calf was captured as part of the operation and sold into captivity, ending up at the Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California. There, she was named "Baby Mara." As the zoo's lone elephant, she "entertained" visitors during the day – but behind the scenes she was at times immobilized in chains and trained with a bullhook.

Mara’s life was soon to change again when the Happy Hollow Zoo decided to sell her to a circus in Mexico. Fortunately, a kindly group called Friends of Mara took up her cause, and a generous mother and daughter stepped in and donated the funds needed to purchase Mara. (This family is still helping Mara and PAWS all these years later, and we are extremely appreciative of their support.) Friends of Mara sent the young elephant to Florida where she lived with more than 80 other imported elephant orphans on a 600-acre estate owned by businessman Arthur Jones. After a few years Jones’ fortunes changed and he began selling off the elephants. Mara was again slated for sale to a circus.

PAWS co-founders Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby had previously rescued a sickly baby elephant named "71" from the same Florida estate. When they heard about Mara's impending sale, they alerted Friends of Mara and quickly moved to rescue her from a lifetime of misery in the circus. Ed Stewart enlisted the help of a local truck driver and the two men headed out on the 6,000-mile, round-trip journey to Florida to pick up the young elephant and bring her back to PAWS. Mara arrived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in January 1990 and shared a habitat with 71 (above). They were the first elephants to be rescued by a sanctuary in the U.S. The two remained companions until 71's death in 2008.

Today, Mara continues to roam her expansive habitat at ARK 2000, along with African elephant Thika (left). Together they forage on fresh vegetation, nap in the sun, and explore a complex natural environment that changes with the seasons and offers stimulating smells, sounds, and choices.

It also happens that Mara is turning 40 – so we are celebrating two milestones for this beloved elephant! Elephants in their forties are considered to be in the prime of their lives and, in nature, would not only be reproducing but playing an important role in their families. They might even be matriarchs. Sadly, in captivity many elephants are considered to be “old” or “geriatric” at this age due to arthritis and foot disease that sets in at an early age due to captive conditions in zoos and circuses.

PAWS is proud to have provided Mara with a life of stability, a spacious and enriching natural environment, peace, and dignity.

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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.

Pat Derby: A Life Dedicated

to Protecting Captive Wildlife

Pat Derby, co-founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, was a champion for captive wild and exotic animals, particularly those used in “entertainment.” Working side by side with her partner, current PAWS’ president and co-founder Ed Stewart, they set a new standard of care for captive wildlife, including establishing the first elephant sanctuary in the U.S. Sadly, Pat lost a long battle with cancer and passed away on February 15, 2013. But her spirit continues to live in PAWS’ rescue, sanctuary, and advocacy work.

Pat’s bravery and vision for a better life for captive wildlife helped lay the groundwork for the profound changes we are seeing today, including the public’s increasing rejection of the use of wild animals in entertainment, whether elephants and tigers in circuses or orcas in marine parks, and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus coming to an end. Her battle against the use of cruel elephhant bullhooks has resulted in statewide bans in California and Rhode Island, with PAWS playing an integral role in their passage.

Pat remains an inspiration to everyone at PAWS and to the greater animal protection community. Her determination and fighting spirit continue to drive PAWS’ efforts to create a more just and humane world for captive wild animals, each and every day.


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 »




Above: Click on the photo to watch a special video message from PAWS President Ed Stewart.  


A Message from PAWS President

Ed Stewart on Caring for Our Animals During COVID-19 Pandemic

At this time of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one assurance PAWS can give you: The animals at our three sanctuaries are continuing to receive the highest level of care by our dedicated caregivers and veterinary team.

While many around the world are experiencing serious disruptions in their everyday lives, we are doing our best to ensure that the elephants, bears, big cats and other wild animals we care for remain unaffected. Thisincludes purchasing extra food, hay and produce, as well as edical necessities to prepare for the weeks ahead.At the same time, we are taking all necessary precautions to protect our caregiving team, who are so important to the welfare of our animals.

As always, we are thankful to you, our supporters. Because of your generosity and caring, captive wild nimals who once suffered in circuses, roadside zoos, and the exotic pet trade are now safe and in the best of hands. They continue to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature as they go about their daily routines in their spacious habitats.

When things get better – and I know they will – I hope

you will remember the deserving animals at PAWS. Until that time we hope that you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.


Ed Stewart

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Open House/Event Cancellations

Due To COVID-19 Virus

The health and safety of our supporters, volunteers, and employees is a priority for all of us at the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). Out of an abundance of caution, we are cancelling all events through the end of May at our ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas.

You have three options for purchased Open House tickets:

1. Apply your ticket to a future Open House. If you choose this option, please send an email to PAWS Event Director Kim Gardner at and request to keep your ticket(s) active. Please provide the name and email address of the person who purchased the tickets.

2. Request a refund. Email us at and provide the name and email address of the person who purchased the tickets and the date of the Open House you were planning to attend, along with a phone number should we need to contact you.

3. Make your ticket a donation to PAWS. No action is necessary for this option.

March/April SEEING THE ELEPHANT guests: Please email Kim Gardner at to request a refund or to reschedule.

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PAWS' International Captive Wildlife Conference Postponed Until 2021

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Mack Moves to ARK 2000

With its acorn-laden oak trees, swimming pool, and grassy hillside, Mack's new habitat at ARK 2000 provides a greatly expanded and enriched place where a bear can live more like a bear. Mack, now 5 years old, is still youthful and very energetic despite having only three legs.

Last year Mack was moved to ARK 2000 from PAWS' original sanctuary in Galt, California, where he has been since his arrival as an orphaned yearling in August 2016. We may never know the story of how the little cub lost much of his right hind leg, or what led to him being found alone, begging people for food and attention. PAWS' veterinarian Dr. Gai performed an anesthetized examination to evaluate his leg and overall health several months after his arrival, and X-rays suggest that he may have been born with a malformed leg although a traumatic injury very early in life cannot be definitively ruled out. The one thing we do know is that Mack doesn't let this slow him down at all, and he is in excellent health in every other way.

Mack is often seen with his nose to the ground, busy exploring the scents of nature and searching for his favorite treat of fallen acorns, and for bits of fruit and seeds scattered around the habitat by caregivers. He loves his pool and thoroughly enjoys splashing and playing in it daily. 

PAWS is deeply grateful to three special donors – Paula and Kim Eggleston, and Diane Virdee – who generously provided the necessary funds to retrofit an existing bear habitat at ARK 2000 to make it safer and more easily accessible for Mack's special needs.

Above: Mack, who loves water, wasted no time trying

out his pool.

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Thank you

Amazon "Wish List" Donors

MARCH DONORS - Patricia A. Chisum: one 32 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm. Carole Bognar (Happy B-Day Toka!): three 13 oz. cans of raisins. Marisa Landsberg: two 2 lb. boxes of raisins. Robyn Pierce: one 12.5 lb. bag of popcorn kernels; one 13 oz. can of raisins; one bag of Pill Pockets, 60#. Dan Brinkman: four packs of AA batteries, 48#. Tracey: four 2 lb. boxes of raisins; one box of Denamarin, 30#; one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin & Coat. Michael A Strobel: 10 bottles of Emcelle Tocopherol. Jan Nelson: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Claire Osborne: two packs of Laxatone; one 32 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm; one bottle of CosequinDS, 132 #; one Probiocin. Michele Smith: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin & Coat. Anonymous Donors: one case of copy paper, 8.5 x 14; two 5 lb. tubs of Psyllium; one 24 pack of AA batteries.

FEBRUARY DONORS - Stacey L. Greene: one 20 lb. tub of Psyllium. Monica Savage: one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#. Erica Armstrong: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Carole Bognar: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Nancy Gordon: two pack of AA batteries, 24#; one case of office copy paper. Karen P. Osgood: two pack of Puracy soap. Melissa Philips: one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#; one 8 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm. Sharon Niel: three 10x10 canopy pop-up tents. Teresa Perez: one box of Denamarin, 30#. Anonymous Donor: one Probiocin.


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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