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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.
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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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Pictured: Tiger Czar


Three Tigers Arrive at PAWS

Three new tigers have found lifetime homes at PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary. Mungar, Czar and Tessa needed immediate placement when their previous home, Southern California's Wildlife Waystation, permanently ceased operations and relinquished their permit to keep wild animals. PAWS and several other sanctuaries across the country stepped up to help, providing permanent refuge for a number of displaced animals.

When Wildlife Waystation officially surrendered their permit in August, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife immediately assumed both physical and fiscal responsibility for the daily care of more than 400 exotic and non-releasable wild animals, a monumentally expensive and daunting task for a state agency. At the request of the state, the New York-based non-profit Tigers in America (TIA) began finding appropriate placement for big cats and other animals within its network of sanctuaries. As of this writing, TIA has assisted in relocating 42 big cats into new homes in eight sanctuaries across the country.

Mungar, Czar and Tessa have made themselves right at home, and have settled in well. They are getting to know our staff and daily routine, as well as the other tigers who are housed nearby. Czar and Tessa are considered elderly, and Mungar has significant but manageable disabilities. PAWS' caregiving and veterinary staff excel at caring for older and "special needs" animals. Disability-friendly habitats, nutritious food, dedicated daily care, round-the-clock monitoring, and expert veterinary care tailored to the unique needs of each individual are the hallmarks that define PAWS' commitment to animal well-being.

Mungar (left) is 14 years old, and he is patient, strong, and quite unique. He was born with multiple physical challenges that were probably the result of genetic defects due to inbreeding, something all too common among tigers in captivity. He is blind in his left eye and has limited vision in his right. Malformed neck vertebrae pinch his spinal cord causing neurological symptoms such as urinary incontinence and difficulty using his rear legs. He also has a deformed jaw which makes it challenging to chew large pieces of food. We cut his meat into small strips to make it easier for him to chew and swallow. He takes multiple medications to help with his challenges, all of which he seems to take in stride. We immediately noticed his calm, trusting and positive attitude.

Mungar's enclosure includes a small pool and den area and is attached to his own disability-friendly habitat filled with shady oak trees, soft grass and soil. We've installed wooden platforms that have been built low to the ground so he can get on and off them with ease. He is a tiger who loves water. In fact, the first thing he did when he entered his new enclosure was to climb into his pool for a good soak. Mungar is a big, solid tiger with a calm and relaxed demeanor and a friendly personality. He and his new neighbor Apollo are mutually curious about each other and interactions through their shared fence have been cautious, but positive.

Czar (left) is 17 years old, active, inquisitive, and handsome. He also loves water and enjoys being given a cool bath with a water hose by his caregivers or submerging himself in the pool within his enclosure. He always greets people, and neighboring tigers, with a friendly "chuff." He even chuffs at his pool!

The first thing Czar did when released into his enclosure and den area at ARK 2000 was eat grass. All of our tiger enclosures and habitats have areas with filled with lush, green grass, a favorite treat for tigers. Tigers, like many domestic cats, love to eat grass. PAWS irrigates certain areas so that even during the hot summer months our tigers have access to green grass. Czar's enclosure is next door to Tessa's and they seem to enjoy each other's company. Caregivers report positive vocalizations (chuffing) back and forth.

Tessa ((left) is 17 years old, full of energy and beautiful. Overall she is friendly and curious, but also has a shy and reserved side. She especially loves lounging on the elevated wooden platform in her enclosure where she can watch all of the activity going on around her. She also enjoys rolling and pouncing on her big Boomer ball.

Tessa greets people and neighboring tigers alike with a friendly "chuff." She is very curious about her other neighbor, tiger Sawyer, and often makes friendly gestures towards her. Like all tigers at PAWS, Tessa's enclosure and den area is attached to a large habitat filled with trees, grass, soft soil and a pool.

Czar and Tessa will soon have access to larger habitats. They must first become acclimated to their individual enclosures and dens and learn the daily routine before we let them out into the bigger areas. This way they will know to come back in for feeding and medications.

We look forward to getting to know these tigers even more, and we're honored to provide them with room to roam, the peaceful sounds of nature, and the love and respect they deserve.

We estimate that it costs approximately $18,000 per year to care for ONE healthy tiger. Please consider making a special gift to PAWS in honor of Mungar, Tessa and Czar.

Donate here.

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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 »





Coming in 2020: PAWS International Captive Wildlife Conference

Save the date! PAWS will present the International Captive Wildlife Conference, November 14-16, in San Andreas, California. The conference will span two days, with a visit to the ARK 2000 sanctuary on the third day. This highly anticipated event addresses issues key to wild animal captivity and features international experts on animal welfare, care, science, law and policy. Stay tuned for more information!

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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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The Importance of True Sanctuary

By Catherine Doyle

PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy

I recently heard about a comment made by a zoo employee, who said that PAWS’ ARK 2000 sanctuary is “just a bigger zoo.” My immediate response was: How superficial! That person really doesn’t understand what a sanctuary is all about. Obviously, space is important, especially when you’re caring for the planet’s largest land mammal. Elephants need room to move and stay healthy. But there are many factors that distinguish PAWS from other captive institutions.

Animals come first

We are here to serve the wild animals in our care; their welfare is our primary concern. PAWS holds the highest standards of care for the animals, provided by a dedicated caregiver staff and veterinary team. The animals are cared for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and treated with the respect they deserve.

Different role of confinement

At ARK 2000 we use confinement to protect and better serve the animals, rather than control and display them for human amusement. PAWS openly acknowledges that even the greatly improved conditions we provide are still not enough to meet the needs of wild animals. As PAWS President Ed Stewart has said, "The only “state of the art” place for elephants, bears, big cats and other animals is the wild."

Safe haven for life

A true captive wildlife sanctuary does not breed, buy, trade, sell or otherwise exploit animals. The animals who come to ARK 2000 will remain in our care for the rest of their lives. Important social bonds are respected and will remain undisturbed.

Focus on the individual

Our animals do not perform, and the public is never in direct contact with them – no selfies, feeding, or other so-called “educational” encounters. PAWS' focus is on the individual for the sake of that animal only. They are not ambassadors for their species nor are they on display to send a message. If there is any message, it is that the situations these animals were rescued from, and the abuse and deprivations some of them suffered, should not be allowed to exist.

Dynamic spaces

Larger spaces allow for more environmental complexity and more choice for the animals, whether it is engaging in self-directed activities or choosing to be closer to or farther from companions. At ARK 2000 the animals are immersed in complex natural areas that change with the seasons, effecting different behavioral opportunities and sensory experiences.

Quiet of nature

A large, natural habitat sanctuary offers subtle benefits: the quiet of living in nature, more intrusion-free lives, the relaxation that comes from no longer being exposed to the pressures of close confinement and social stress, privacy, and expanded visual, auditory and olfactory experiences.

Emphasis on rehabilitation

PAWS strives to help elephants be elephants, tigers be tigers, and bears be bears. Natural environments filled with grass, shady trees, bushes and lakes allow the animals to actively engage in instinctive behaviors such as foraging, swimming, exploring, climbing, socializing, or simply napping in the sun. Our patient and caring staff is there to support the animals and enable their remarkable transformation to the vibrant and thriving animals they are today.

View of captivity

PAWS seeks to create a deeper understanding of the problematic nature of captivity for wild animals and works to end the systems of abuse and exploitation that have created the need for sanctuaries to begin with. Captivity is not normal and we should not idealize it, even with the best of conditions. Wild animals belong in the wild, protected and respected.

As you can see, PAWS is much, much more than just a “bigger zoo.” It is a place that offers a new lease on life for the elephants, big cats, bears and other wild animals currently in our care – and those yet to come. It is also a place where each animal is respected as an individual with her or his own inherent value, and whose welfare and needs will always come first.

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Thank you Amazon "Wish List" Donors

JANUARY DONORS - Renee Hendry: one Probiocin, one box of Crananidin, 75#. Linda: one 25 lb. bag of peanuts. Mary: one 25 lb. bag of peanuts. Lynn and Ryan Cooper: one 10 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat. P. Banchik-Rothschild: one bag of Greenies Pill Pockets, 60#; one Probiocin. Marisa Landsberg: one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium; one box of Denamarin, 30#; one 8 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm. Denise: three 13 oz. cans of Raisins; one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Peggy Buckner: two Laxatone, 4.25 oz. Tara Jensen: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin & Coat; one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium; one box of Denamarin, 30#. Kirk Lewis: one box of Denamarin, 30#; one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin & Coat. Joyce Zee: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Anonymous Donors: two 10 lb. bags of Missing Link Skin and Coat; one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium; two boxes of Denamarin, 30#; four bottles of CosequinDS, 132#; four 10 lb. bags of Missing Link Skin and Coat; one 20 lb. tub of Psyllium.

DECEMBER DONORS - Erin Korsakoff: one can of raisins; one Probiocin. Chelsea: one 25 lb. bag of peanuts. Jennifer Barry: two Laxatone. Danielle Anderson: three cans of raisins; two bottles of Renal Essentials, 60#. Olin's, Muccias, Rogers, Spencers and Meckfessels: one can of raisins; one bag of Pill Pockets, 60#. Nancy Gordon: one bottle of CranAnidin, 75#; one 20 lb. tub of Psyllium. Jennifer Barry: one Pill Pockets, 60#; one 12.5 lb. bag of popcorn; one can of raisins. Anita Price: two Laxatone. Denise Schwahn: two Laxatone. Jacqui and Keith Abbey: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat. Lisa McNeil: one 12.5 lb. bag of popcorn. Michele Smith: one can of raisins; one Presto popcorn popper; one 12.5 lb. bag of popcorn. Lynn and Ryan Coplen: eight cans of raisins. Meredith D. Gitlings: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Anonymous Donors: two 24-packs of AA batteries; one 3-pack of bleach; one 12.5 lb. bag of popcorn; 10 bottles of Emcelle Tocopherol; four cans of raisins; one bottle of Azodyl, 90#.



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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