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about paws

The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) captive wildlife sanctuaries are places where abandoned, abused, or retired performing animals, and victims of the exotic animal trade, live in peace and dignity.

Founded in 1984, by former Hollywood animal trainer and author, Pat Derby, and her partner, Ed Stewart, PAWS is an internationally recognized leader in animal welfare. Among PAWS greatest concerns is the treatment of animals in traveling shows, animal acts, television and movies, captive breeding, the exotic animal trade and inadequate standards of care for all captive wildlife.

PAWS has always 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.

PAWS’ was the first elephant sanctuary in the United States. Pat Derby and Ed Stewart pioneered a method of elephant handling that uses NO bull hooks, weapons or aversive training techniques. PAWS was the first facility to use this “non-dominance” technique successfully, and since 1985, the work of Derby and Stewart has been a model for elephant handlers around the world.

PAWS also protects wild species and their habitat with international programs established in India, Mexico, Africa and Cambodia to diminish human/elephant conflict and to establish protected areas for wildlife. Pat and Ed serve as advisory board members for Elephant Haven, a European elephant sanctuary.

PAWS is a proud member of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and is listed as a 4-star charity with Charity Navigator.