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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 »





The Amazing Ways PAWS' Animals

Beat the Heat at ARK 2000

Read this story and more, in our August newsletter.

Click here.

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Meet "New" Sanctuary Resident

Owen the Bobcat

For the last five years, Owen the bobcat has been living

at PAWS' sanctuary in Galt, California, in what can only

be described as a "witness protection program" of sorts. Read Owen's story in our July newsletter here.



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Alka, the last of the Colton tigers, passed away in April of this year.

PAWS' Historic Colton Tiger Rescue

Sixteen years later, the big cat problem still persists!

In June 2004, PAWS undertook what was then the largest big cat rescue in U.S. history – saving 39 neglected and starving tigers from a roadside attraction posing as a refuge in Colton, California. For years, the inaptly named "Tiger Rescue" was a popular weekend destination offering public tours and photos with tiger cubs and other wild animals. What the public didn’t see was the horrific cruelty that led state authorities to arrest the owner, close the facility and confiscate the animals.

In 2002, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife seized 10 tigers from Tiger Rescue after finding them in filthy cages without water. They also suspected the owner of illegal breeding. Officials returned in 2003 to execute a search warrant at the owner's residence in nearby Glen Avon, finding tiger and leopard cubs in the home's attic, two tigers roaming a porch, two alligators in a bathtub, and, shockingly, 90 dead tigers, including 58 dead baby tigers in freezers. Many other big cats and exotic wildlife were found sick, injured and some barely alive. The State of California seized control of Tiger Rescue, where 54 big cats remained.

Homes were quickly found for the 15 big cats healthy enough to travel, leaving 39 of the sickest and neediest tigers. Sanctuaries around the country were at or near capacity, and most zoos do not want tigers of unknown genetic origin. So PAWS stepped in to take all of the remaining tigers. The rescue was an enormous undertaking, but we saved 39 lives and were honored to provide the tigers with a safe, natural, and healthy home for remainder of their lives (above). (Read more about the 39 tigers' journey to PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary here.)

The recent passing of the last of the Colton tigers, Alka, caused us to reflect on this historic rescue and the current – and future – state of tigers in the U.S. We wish we could say that the exploitation of big cats is behind us, but it’s not. In many states you can still pay to pet and take a photo with captive-bred cubs, including baby tigers as shown in the Netflix docuseries "Tiger King." Cub petting attractions are responsible for creating what has become a big cat crisis in the United States that threatens animal welfare and human safety.

The cub petting racket produces a large number of big cat cubs. Their operation depends on having cubs available at all times. To do this, they “speed breed” their females as often as three times a year (in nature females would have at least two years between litters), then tear the cubs from their mothers shortly after birth. The cubs can only be used for a short period of time, during which they are subjected to hours of rough handling, denied sleep, and may be slapped, dragged, and punched by handlers. By 12 weeks of age the cubs are too big and dangerous to handle. They are then sold to other roadside zoos, private owners, kept for breeding more cubs, or simply "disappear."

Fortunately, the tide may be turning. The Big Cat Public Safety Act has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. It would prohibit the private ownership of big cats and stop public contact with these animals, including in cruel cub petting operations. Here is the status of the bill:

House (H.R. 1380, introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Illinois): The bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee in September 2019 – the first time it has advanced the bill. Click here to see the list of 230 co-sponsors.

Senate (S. 2561, introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut): The Big Cat Public Safety Act is sitting in the Environment and Public Works Committee. It needs the public’s help to add co-sponsors and move the bill forward. Click here to see the list of co-sponsors.

The most important way you can help: Contact your representative and urge support for the Big Cat Public Safety Act. If your representative is a co-sponsor, be sure to thank them. Also contact your senators and ask that they support the bill and become a co-sponsor. Click here to find your representative and senators and their contact information.

More ways to help:

Never patronize any place that offers cub petting, photos, or other up-close “experiences” with wild animals.

Avoid wild animal shows, including circuses and those at local fairs.

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about the cruelty involved in cub petting operations.

Initiate local legislation to end the use of wild animals in entertainment.

Contact PAWS and let us know if there is cub petting in your area. Email

Share what you’ve learned on social media and urge others to take action.

No big cat should ever have to suffer for someone’s selfie. We can prevail for big cats and stop the “tiger kings” in their tracks – but only if everyone takes action. Start by calling (most effective) and/or emailing your elected officials in Washington today!

View the documentary "39 Tigers" here to learn more about this amazing rescue.


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In Memoriam

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 »




For the Wild Animals at PAWS:

Peace and Quiet Prevails

You’ve probably read recent stories about wild animals venturing back into towns and cities since the coronavirus shut down much of the world and emptied busy streets. Wild goats regularly enter a seaside town in Wales and munch on windowsill flowers. A mountain lion was spotted asleep in a tree in a normally bustling area of Denver, Colorado. Even in natural settings like Yosemite National Park in California, numerous bears, bobcats and coyotes have come out of hiding. (Typically, more than 300,000 people would visit the park in April.) With the stillness, animals are at least temporarily reclaiming what was once theirs.

At the ARK 2000 sanctuary, we understand that quietness is essential for captive wild animals too, especially those who once suffered terribly in circuses, roadside zoos, and the captive wildlife trade. The tranquility of nature that now surrounds them is an important benefit of the sanctuary that aids in the animals’ rehabilitation. ARK 2000’s truly natural setting and the peace that comes with it allows the animals to relax and engage in more natural and varied activities. They can play, explore, search for food, socialize, splash in a pool, or nap in the sun. The choices are there for them. The animals are also more in tune with the complexities of their surroundings as the seasons change, bringing different sights, sounds, and smells.

An important part of our work is to make the animals’ lives as intrusion-free as possible. This is why we choose to remain closed to visitors, except for a limited number of educational events at ARK 2000. Many of the animals we care for were once on public display: Asian elephant Gypsy was forced to perform in circuses for nearly 40 years. Asian bull elephants Nicholas and Prince came from circuses as well. Ben the bear paced in a tiny, barren cage at a roadside attraction. African elephants Lulu, Thika, Toka, and Maggie spent most of their lives in zoos. African lion Camba traveled in a circus, and the Colorado tigers were exploited at a roadside zoo. At the sanctuary, they now have a safe space and privacy.

Free from the stress of close confinement, cruel training and forced performances, and the numbing tedium that comes from being deprived of all that is natural to a wild animal, the animals at PAWS can unwind. With time, each new rescued animal blossoms, revealing the individual they truly are. Most recently we’ve seen this with the Waystation Three tigers, Mungar, Czar, and Tessa (read more about them here.

Thankfully, ARK 2000 remains tranquil, and the animals are blissfully unaware of the pandemic that surges outside. That’s as it should be. While we face some challenges – as many of you do at this time – our dedicated staff continue to care for the animals and keep the sanctuary operating smoothly. As ever, our priority is the health and welfare of the animals. Part of that is providing the most natural – and quiet – conditions possible in captivity. Shhhhh. . .

* * * *


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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PAWS President Ed Stewart Talks

About Netflix Docuseries "Tiger King"

Read Ed's comments here:


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PAWS Book a PAWS Speaker

for Your Online Class

If you are looking for a unique way to broaden your students’ online learning experience, PAWS can provide a guest speaker for your college, high school or elementary school classes. Topics can range from an overview of our sanctuary work to more in-depth discussions of captive wild animal issues, ethics, and care. Available speakers are Catherine Doyle, M.S., Director of Science, Research and Advocacy, and Dr. Jackie Gai, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services. Contact Catherine at for more information. Speakers are provided at no charge.

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Thank you

Amazon "Wish List" Donors

AUGUST DONORS - Michele Grafton: two sets of Cobra radios/walkie talkies. Aprille Hammond: one bottle of Cosequin DS, #132. Timor Morodshoev: two 32 oz. bottles of EicosaDerm. Susan Richardson: one bottle of Cosequin DS, #132; two 32 oz. bottles of EicosaDerm; two Laxatone; one bottle of AminAvast, #60. Peggy Buckner: one bottle of Cosequin DS, #132. DH Rasineiler: one bottle of Cosequin DS, #132. Carmen I. Crosby: one bottle of Cosequin DS, #132. Jeff Yee: three bottles of Cosequin DS, #132; five gallons of Red Cell; two bags of raisins; one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin & Coat. Irene Breedlove-Olrich: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium; one 8 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm; two Probiocin; one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin & Coat. Cristen Esquibel: one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#; one 8 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm. Debra Laughlin: one Probiocin; one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#. Suzanne Block: one bottle of Renal Essentials, #60; one bottle of Cosequin DS, #132. Wendy and Scott Calvect: four Probiocin; two 20 lb. tubs of Psyllium. Julie Pickard: one Probiocin. Kathleen A. Rabeneau: four bottles of Cosequin DS, #132. Stephen Kern: one bottle of Cosequin DS, #132. Deborah I. John Shadle: one Laxatone; one quart of Red Cell, one 32 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm; two bottles of Cosequin DS, #132. Kristen Garcia: one bottle of Cosequin DS, #132. Barbara Almstead: three quarts of Red Cell. Ken and Kathy Barbour: two bags of peanuts in the shell; one bag of fig bars; one bag of dates; one bag of prunes, one bag of almonds; two bags of dried mango; one bag of dried pineapple; one bag of walnuts; one bag of pumpkin seeds; one bag of sunflower seeds; one box of raisins; one can of PB bites; one box of pill treats; one bottle of Cosequin DS, 60#; one 4-pk of AA batteries; two Costco gift cards. Anonymous Donors: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat; two boxes of raisins; 10 bottles of Emcelle Tocopherol; two bottles of Renal Essentials, 60#; one gallon of Red Cell; one bag of raw peanuts in the shell.

JULY DONORS - Helmut and Maria Rogasch: ten 1 gal. jugs of Red Cell; 10 Probiocin; two bottles of Renal Essentials, #60; two 32 oz. bottles of Eicosaderm; five 32 oz. bottles of Red Cell. Linda Hewitt: one 6 ft. stainless steel work table. Cheri Joseph: one 20 lb. tub of Psyllium; one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat; one 32 oz. bottle of Eicosaderm. Elaine Green: one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium. Dianne Callender: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat. Leona Heraty: one box of AA batteries, #24; one Rainbird sprinkler head. Anne A. Durham: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat; one 32 oz. bottle of Eicosaderm. Jennifer and George Craig: one gal. Red Cell; one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Paul Osburn: one bottle Renal Essentials, #60; one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium; one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat. Joanne and Paul Osburn: one 5 lb. bag of sunflower seeds; one 5 lb. bag of pumpkin seeds; one 1 lb. bag of walnuts; one 1 lb. bag of almonds. Deborah Yates: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Maureen O'Connor: one Probiocin. Jennifer Crum: one bottle Renal Essentials, #60. Jeff Yee: five 64 oz. boxes of Raisins; five 5 lb. tubs of Psyllium. Lori Swearingen: one bottle Renal Essentials, #60. Carol Bognar: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Monica Savage: two 32 oz. bottles of Red Cell. Geraldine Hayward: one case of office copy paper. Anonymous Donors: one bottle of Aminavast, #60; one 1 lb. bag of diced pineapple; five lb. bags of diced Papaya; one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat; one 8 oz. bottle of Eicosaderm; one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium.


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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