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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 »





Anne in her small outdoor yard at the Longleat Safari Park in the U.K. Photo by Mark Richards


When Sanctuary Is Not A Sanctuary

By Ed Stewart, PAWS president and co-founder

PAWS regularly monitors the plights of elephants around the world, through contact with other animal protection organizations close to these situations and via the news media. One of these elephants is Anne, who spent most of her life in a traveling circus where she was cruelly beaten and abused. She is now living at the Longleat Safari Park in the United Kingdom.

Read Ed's entire article, here.



PAWS — 30 Years of Rescue,

Sanctuary, Education & Advocacy

This is a very special year for PAWS, and we invite you to join us in celebrating our 30th year of rescue, sanctuary care, advocacy and education for captive exotic wildlife and performing animals. It is you, our friends and supporters, who have helped realize our great strides on important issues affecting animals, and ensured that the bears, lions, elephants, tigers, eland, Canadian lynx, and many more animals at PAWS continue to live in peace. With your help we will continue to accept animals in need, including elephants, and provide the refuge and rehabilitation they so desperately need.


Pat Derby and Ed Stewart with baby elephant 71, shortly after her arrival in 1986. "Ed and I built ARK 2000 for 71, and all our programs were developed from our experience with her. Without 71, there would be no PAWS." (Pat Derby, 2009)


Started in 1984 as the dream of co-founders Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby, PAWS has become a vital and thriving organization. PAWS established the very first U.S. elephant sanctuary, and today we successfully operate the largest captive wildlife sanctuary in the U.S., home to rescued and retired animals. We value advocacy as a means of putting an end to the exploitation and suffering of captive wildlife, and we have made many advances, including introducing and passing laws that better protect the health and welfare of captive wildlife used for entertainment and as exotic pets.

In 2013 alone, PAWS played a leadership role in passing a bullhook ban in Los Angeles, making it the largest U.S. city with such a restriction on circuses (the bullhook is a weapon used by handlers to control elephants through painful punishment). And we welcomed three African elephants from Canada - Iringa, Thika and Toka - to their spacious natural-habitat home at ARK 2000, bringing the total number of elephants we care for up to 11.

We will continue our battle against the exploitation of exotic animals used for circuses, elephant rides, and other forms of "entertainment," and the exotic pet industry. At the same time, we will be stepping up our efforts in the fight against the decimation of African elephants for the illegal ivory trade. And we will continue to educate the world about all these important issues.

And there is much more to come!

We look forward to sharing an exciting future with you, as we fulfill our vision of creating a better life for captive wild animals. Our vision includes continuing the process of creating habitats at ARK 2000 for the animals still living at our original sanctuary in Galt, Calif., creating an additional facility for female Asian elephants, building additional barn space for African elephants (our 20,000-square-foot African barn is now at capacity), and completing the expansion of Bull Mountain (PAWS is the only sanctuary to take male elephants).

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletters where we'll be providing more information on our campaigns, rescues, and ways you can help the animals. And don't forget to save the date for PAWS' International Captive Wildlife Conference November 8-10, featuring some of the most progressive voices on key animal issues.

As always, it is you, our supporters, who really make a difference for the animals. For that we are forever grateful.

Please make a donation to PAWS today, as a way to help us celebrate this very special and hopeful 30th anniversary year. Your gift of $30 - one dollar for each year that PAWS has existed - goes directly to caring for the many animals at PAWS, helps educate more people about important animal issues, and ensures our advocacy efforts will be as effective as possible.


PAWS director of science, research and advocacy, Catherine Doyle, speaks at post-march rally.


PAWS Joins Global March For Lions

At PAWS we care for six lions - Denny, Pfeiffer, Sheba, Simba, Bambek and Camba - who were victims of the exotic pet trade or came from the circus. So we were honored to participate in the first-ever Global March For Lions held in more than 60 cities around the world on March 15. PAWS participated in the Los Angeles march which drew over 250 people and featured PAWS' director of science, research and advocacy, Catherine Doyle, as a speaker at the post-march rally.

The Global March For Lions aimed to bring attention to the plight of lions in captivity and in the wild, with a special focus on the abhorrent practice of raising lions for canned hunts in South Africa. These lions are captive-bred and the cubs are used as a tourist attraction. When they become adults, they will be shot point-blank in a contained area. These canned hunt operations negatively impact the wild population of lions, which is dramatically decreasing. Hunt operators reportedly continue to take lions from the wild so they act "more like lions" when they are shot.

PAWS was the first to investigate canned hunts in California and initiated the 1992 law that ended the practice in our state.Unbelievably, canned hunts still occur in the U.S., with many ranch operations in Texas.

Wild African lions now number less than 40,000 individuals and have vanished from 80 percent of their historic range. Lion populations are quickly declining or disappearing altogether. Only seven countries, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, are believed to each contain more than 1,000 wild lions.

Lions are being affected by disease, habitat degradation, habitat and prey loss, and human-lion conflict. They also are being over-utilized for commercial and recreational purposes, including trophy hunting and the use of lion parts for so-called medicinal purposes. In fact, the U.S. is the leading importer of lion parts and products, and the trade is increasing, even though lion populations are decreasing.

African lions are teetering on the brink of extinction. Unless we take action this iconic animal could be lost to us forever. In 2013, we asked you to take action for African lions by commenting on a petition before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the African lion as an endangered species. The lions don't have time - this critical designation must be made as quickly as possible.

We urge you to contact your senator(s) and representative and ask them to help move the endangered species designation for lions forward. To easily find your U.S. representative and senator(s), click here.



Peggy Burr had a life-long dream to see an elephant in a natural setting. On March 15, her dream came true. Peggy, accompanied by her son Smith and friend Judith, attended a PAWS "Seeing the Elephant" educational weekend. Peggy, by the way, is 94 years young! Thank you for visiting us Peggy. You made our day.  - Ed Stewart



A big thank you to Sandi Peck for donating her 2008 Land Rover for use at ARK 2000. We first met Sandi and her mother Ruth when they attended a "Seeing the Elephant" weekend. Sandi also funded the surveillance cameras mounted in the elephant crates during the Toronto elephants' move to PAWS. That system allowed the elephants to be monitored 24/7 during their journey to California.


The Toronto Elephants


Visit our Facebook page for photos and updates on Toronto elephants Iringa, Toka and Thika.

View our latest videos of the Toronto Elephants:

Toka | Climbing Hills, Browsing In Trees; Thika | Fun In

The Mud; Iringa | Exploring The African Habitat




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 »



THE END OF AN ERA Three of California's most renowned crusaders for animal welfare: Virginia Handley (top left), PAWS co-founder Pat Derby (top right) and Gladys "Gladie" Sargent (center). Their legacies will continue to inspire us all.

Virginia Handley, In Memoriam

PAWS salutes our dear friend Virginia Handley who passed away late last month. Virginia dedicated her life to bringing about change for animals via the political system. She was a highly respected lobbyist in California's capitol, Sacramento, and founded PawPac, a political action committee dedicated to passing humane legislation and electing animal-friendly legislators. Virginia was a popular speaker at animal advocacy conferences, inspiring generations of activists.

Virginia and fellow animal crusader Gladys Sargent (shown above) could be found walking the halls of the Capitol and lobbying state officials five days a week. Virginia and Pat Derby were original members of the Director's Advisory Committee on the Humane Care and Treatment of Wild Animals for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. Virginia continued to serve on the committee, which also includes Ed Stewart and PAWS' veterinarian Dr. Jackie Gai, until the time of her death.

"Pat and I worked with Virginia on many animal bills because she was the best at what she did," said Ed Stewart. "She was on top of every animal welfare issue in the state for the last 30 years. Pat always had Virginia's phone number on speed dial."

Thank you Virginia for all you did for the animals.



Pat Derby out for a walk with 71. This was her favorite photo.


PAWS Marks One-Year Anniversary

of the Passing of Co-Founder Pat Derby

It's hard to believe that an entire year has passed

since the loss of PAWS co-founder Pat Derby, who was

a leader, an inspiration, visionary and dear friend.

Pat died on February 15, 2013, after battling throat

cancer. Not a day goes by that we don't think about

Pat - her great accomplishments, her wisdom and experience, her sense of humor, and her special way

with the animals at PAWS.

Following Pat's passing, it was no surprise that she would be recognized internationally for her life's work, and that she would be honored from city halls in Los Angeles and Toronto, to the California State Assembly, to the U.S. Congress, including having a flag flown over the nation's capitol in Washington, D.C., in her honor.

On March 29, 2013, Pat's partner and PAWS' co-founder

Ed Stewart, along with PAWS' staff, long-time friends and celebrities - including Bob Barker, Kim Basinger, Tony LaRussa, and Kevin Nealon - gathered together with hundreds of PAWS' supporters at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento. Through tears and laughter, Pat's life and legacy was celebrated. A commemorative DVD of this special evening is available from our giftshop.


Early 1990s at PAWS' sanctuary in Galt, Calif.

Pat with her beloved cougar Christopher, once the star of the "Sign of the Cat" car commercials for Lincoln Mercury. From the time he was a baby he would suck on Pat's thumb and purr.


Pat was the first to champion the cause of performing

wild animals, and she put her heart and soul into their rescue, care and protection. She was full of dreams, but unlike many people, she realized hers with a vengeance! Pat's cherished dream of creating a spacious refuge

where performing animals could express their wild

natures in an enriching, natural habitat became what is now ARK 2000 in San Andreas, Calif. - a thriving

2,300-acre sanctuary where we currently care for

11 elephants, 21 tigers, 4 lions, 7 bears and one black leopard.

No one but Pat could conceive of and realize an event

as spectacular as "Circus PAWS," which debuted in Hollywood, Calif., in 2012. The circus used only human performers to entertain and to teach young and old

alike that wild animals just don't belong in circuses.

Pat fearlessly advocated for captive wildlife and performing animals. Together, she and Ed set the pace

for the legislative work that we continue today. Always

at the forefront, they inspired and passed milestone legislation in California, and stormed the halls in Washington, D.C., bringing the suffering of elephants

in circuses and traveling shows to light with moving testimony before members of Congress.


Jack Hanna has long used wild animals as "props" on TV talk shows. Once these captive-bred

animals are too old to be "entertaining" (or

safely handled) their futures are uncertain.

Always one to speak her mind, Pat signals her opinion of Hanna's activities in this photo taken

by Ed Stewart outside the Columbus Zoo. 


Firm believers in education, Pat and Ed began presenting conferences intended to bring together disparate factions in the captive wildlife field, in order to understand, learn, and, yes, to disagree - but always with respect and with the goal of advancing the welfare of captive animals. On November 8-10, 2014, in Los Angeles, PAWS will again bring together the best and most progressive minds to discuss the welfare of elephants and other species held

in captivity for human convenience and entertainment (watch for conference registration details to come). 

What was most important to Pat was that PAWS

continues to thrive and to grow, and to help even more captive wildlife in need through rescue, education and advocacy. And we have. In 2013, PAWS did Pat proud, achieving landmark victories, like the ban on bullhooks in Los Angeles, welcoming three African elephants from Canada to ARK 2000, and helping to educate the public through our appearances in the media, including the acclaimed HBO documentary, An Apology To Elephants, narrated by PAWS' friend Lily Tomlin.

In this, PAWS' 30th year of work for captive wild animals and those still performing and held in intolerable conditions, we will strive for even greater achievements and to inspire compassion and change.

All the while, we will feel Pat's presence with us - her determination, her fire, her fearless nature - urging

us to reach even higher than before, because the

animals need us, and they need you, our dedicated supporters, to stand up for them and to be their voice.

Together, we can, and we will, change their world.


PAWS Receives Another

4-Star Rating From Charity Navigator!

Charity Navigator has once again given PAWS its coveted 4-star rating for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency. Because PAWS has continued to receive this 4-star rating, we are now rated among the top 7% of Charity Navigator-rated charities in America. Read the letter we received from Charity Navigator President and CEO, Ken Berger, here.




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

(209) 745-2606 Office/Sanctuary
(209) 745-1809 fax

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