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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. Read more here.

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.
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Chris Draper, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Special News From PAWS!

As the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) marks its 40th anniversary, we are pleased to announce that Chris Draper, PhD, who has been part of our team since 2020, has assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer. He succeeds PAWS Co-founder Ed Stewart, who will continue to serve as President/Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Chris has a rich background in exotic animal sanctuary operations, animal welfare science and policy, having worked in the UK, South Africa, Ethiopia and India. His dedication to animal welfare aligns with PAWS’ mission to rescue and provide captive wildlife with lifelong refuge, while advocating against the exploitation of wild animals in captivity.

Together with all of our kind supporters, we look forward to a future marked by growth and enhanced effectiveness in our mission for the animals.


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Take the Pledge for Bears!

At PAWS, we care for bears every day. (One of our bears, Ben, is pictured above.) Bears get far less notice than exotic animals like elephants and tigers – although once you learn more about bears, they’re just as fascinating.

As part of our Take the Pledge for Bears campaign, PAWS has been drawing attention to an animal that deserves more of our respect and protection in the wild and in captivity. For example: Each month in our newsletters during 2023, we provided interesting and sometimes little-known facts about bears – their intelligence, agility, and complex behaviors.

Read our 2023 newsletters here.

Captive bears are overlooked animals – and they suffer more than you know. YOU can make a difference!

Click here to learn more, sign our petition, and take the pledge for bears!

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Pictured: PAWS' rescued tigers Morris and Rosemary


You Can Help Captive Tigers!

By far, the largest number of animals rescued by PAWS are tigers – making them one of the animals most desperately in need of your help. We have rescued tigers from cub petting operations, circuses, roadside zoos, and private owners.

Caring for tigers is expensive. It costs $20,000 to care for one healthy tiger for a year – about $400 a week per big cat. That’s why we need your help.

Your donation to PAWS works in two important ways:

You provide rescued tigers with large habitats filled with trees, grass, pools, and native vegetation. Our expert staff provides daily care, veterinary attention, nutritious food, and 24/7 monitoring.

You support PAWS’ efforts to end the exploitation of tigers for entertainment. Click here to learn more.

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PAWS Co-Founder Pat Derby:

Remembering a Legendary Figure for Captive Wildlife

On February 15, 2013, we mourned the passing of Pat Derby, who co-founded PAWS with partner and PAWS President Ed Stewart. Pat truly was legendary, known for her ferocity in the battle against animal abusers and her relentless drive to end the exploitation of captive wild animals used for entertainment – whether in circuses, film and TV, the exotic “pet” trade, or zoos.

Pat’s early career as a well-known Hollywood animal trainer planted the seeds for her later rescue and advocacy work. No longer able to tolerate the behind-the-scenes abuse of captive wildlife used for film, TV and advertising, Pat wrote a tell-all book, The Lady and Her Tiger (1976). For the first time, the public got an inside look at a shocking world they never even knew existed. This launched her life’s work to educate the public about the suffering of wild animals for entertainment, and to rescue and provide sanctuary for those in need. In 1984, Pat and Ed founded PAWS to fully realize that vision.

PAWS continues this important work under Ed’s able leadership, always working harder and reaching higher in order to change the world for captive wildlife. While she may not have considered herself to be a legend, no one who met Pat could ever forget her and her great passion for animals. She left an indelible mark on the world and our hearts – and she will never be forgotten.


At PAWS ARK 2000 Sanctuary 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 »



Registration is now open!

PAWS International Captive Wildlife

Conference and 40th Anniversary Evening Celebration

November 9-10

Los Angeles, California

Join us in Los Angeles on November 9 and 10 for the world’s only International Captive Wildlife Conference! This year's theme is “Ending Wild Animals as Entertainment.”

Be prepared for an inspiring experience! Leading voices advocating on behalf of elephants, marine mammals, big cats, and other wild animals will provide enlightening information and engage in spirited discussions of the key advances, challenges, and solutions surrounding captive wildlife in various forms of “entertainment." Confirmed speakers represent more than half a dozen countries, making this a truly global event.

In conjunction with the conference, we will be commemorating PAWS' 40th Anniversary with a special celebratory evening event on November 9, making it an occasion you won’t want to miss.

CLICK HERE for information and to register and/or purchase tickets:

PAWS' 2024 International Captive Wildlife Conference

Saturday and Sunday, November 9-10

8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily

PAWS 40th Anniversary Evening Celebration

Saturday, November 9

5:30 to 8:30 p.m.


Proud Bird Event Center LAX

Los Angeles, CA 90045

Sponsorships for the conference and celebration are available. Please contact Kim Gardner, PAWS' director of programs, at or call


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PAWS Celebrates 40 Years

A Message From PAWS Chairman of the Board

and Cofounder

Ed Stewart

I have good news. . . and more good news.

First, PAWS is celebrating 40 years of tremendous success, with the same core management. The rest of the good news is that this success will continue with an important addition. After a worldwide search for several years, we have found a highly qualified replacement to take on some of my duties at PAWS.

I will remain Chairman of the Board of Directors of PAWS. Dr. Chris Draper, formerly of Born Free Foundation, is taking my place as Chief Executive Officer. Chris has a rich background in exotic animal sanctuary operations, having worked in South Africa, Ethiopia and India.

The late Pat Derby and I met Chris more than 15 years ago at a PAWS’ Wildlife Conference. Many of you may remember hearing him present at subsequent PAWS events. I have been working with Chris daily for more than three years at PAWS’ ARK 2000 Sanctuary in San Andreas to ensure a smooth management transition. We have focused on animal care, construction projects, and future planning at the sanctuary. I have complete confidence in Chris’ ability to ensure that PAWS remains a global leader in the protection and care of captive wildlife.

Since 2020, Chris has also been working closely with our solid and experienced animal care management team, which includes: our Director of Science, Research and Public Policy (13 years with PAWS), Director of Veterinary Services (23 years), Elephant Care Manager (28 years), and our Tigers/Bears Manager (18 years). These core individuals and their diligent staff members care for our animals 24/7.

I remember 40 years ago, when I was 33 years of age, riding the train to San Francisco to secure PAWS’ letter of non-profit status from the IRS office. Pat and I then embarked on an uncharted journey filled with struggles and defeats, but mostly monumental victories. We decided early on that we would not only give individual animals sanctuary, but also attack the institutions that had put them in jeopardy.

I take great pride and satisfaction in all of PAWS’ accomplishments. Our motivation has come from the animals we have rescued. Many of their stories are heartbreaking. Some have come from the worst conditions imaginable. Each is a daily reminder that there is much more work to do.

I am humbled by your support for PAWS during our first 40 years. We are stronger now than ever before because of you. I will be forever grateful for your friendship and loyalty, and PAWS is eager to take on the next 40 years.

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Newest PAWS Resident,

10-month-old Tiger Cub Cleo,

Settles Into Sanctuary Life

Cleo is taking to sanctuary life beautifully, since her arrival at PAWS on April 8. This tiger cub has been through so much in her young life, but she is resilient and full of energy!

When confiscated from a private facility by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in late February, Cleo suffered from severe Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). This very painful condition, caused by inadequate nutrition, left her with multiple bone fractures and deformities. She was temporarily housed at the Oakland Zoo, where she received excellent care and proper nutrition for seven weeks.

Cleo arrived at PAWS on April 8th and immediately endeared herself to PAWS’ caregiving staff. Although MBD has caused permanent damage to bones in her neck and legs, she is growing stronger and more active and playful every day.

We love seeing Cleo explore her spacious enclosure, where she stalks and pounces playfully among the tall grasses or relaxes under a tree while enjoying the sights, scents, and sounds of nature.

Cleo loves water, and she enjoys splashing and soaking in her pool. She is calm, confident, and friendly, and our animal care staff is smitten with her.

"We are grateful to the Oakland Zoo for providing safe, emergency placement after she was confiscated, and for giving her a head start on the long road to recuperation and healing," said PAWS Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Jackie Gai.

PAWS provides the perfect combination of expert, individualized care, and a peaceful, natural setting. With sound nutrition, dedicated daily care, and veterinary attention, when necessary, Cleo is in excellent hands. Welcome home, little Cleo!

Read PAWS’ press release welcoming Cleo here.


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Have You Taken the Pledge

to Help Elephants?

PAWS has launched a new campaign called Take the Pledge! to bring attention to the use of elephants for tourism and elephant “encounters” overseas and in the U.S. The only way to stop this form of exploitation is through education and by decreasing demand for these attractions. Read more about PAWS' "Take the Pledge" campaign here.


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

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

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