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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 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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PAWS Welcomes

Eight New Tigers to ARK 2000

In January we reported on the arrival at ARK 2000 of the first four of eight tigers coming to PAWS from a defunct roadside zoo (read story here). We are happy to report that the remaining four tigers arrived safely at PAWS on February 10th and are settling in nicely. It was extremely gratifying to watch as they stepped out of their transport cages and onto the lush green grass of their new habitat. The "Colorado Eight" now have a peaceful, lifetime home at PAWS.

Meet the "Colorado Eight"

Marin, 18-year-old female

Pharaoh, 14-year-old male

Sawyer, 9-year-old female

Bigelow, Nimmo and Wilhelm, 6-year-old brothers

Morris, 5-year-old male

Rosemary Arnot, 5-year-old female

Stay tuned for updates as we get to know their unique personalities and individual needs. More photos and adoption opportunities coming soon!

We urgently need your support for these tigers because some of them will require spay and neuter surgery and others arrived with chronic health conditions that must be treated. Your contribution for the "Colorado Eight" will provide them with a healthy diet and lifetime, expert care at PAWS. To make a donation, click here.


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Above: Mara by the African lake at ARK 2000.


Spotlight on African Elephant Mara

Like all elephants, Mara has a story to tell. Hers began in Africa, where she was born around 1980. She lived with her extended family, as baby elephants do, doted on by loving aunts and older female siblings. Her mother would have been fiercely protective, as Mara explored the rich and complex natural world that was her home.

Then disaster struck. Mara's mother was killed in a cull - the unconscionable government slaughter of elephants to reduce the size of a population. Mara surely saw her mother and other family members executed. The traumatized two-year-old calf was captured as part of the operation and sent to the Catskill Game Farm in New York. There she was sold to a European animal dealer who also happened to own the Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California, where he sent Mara. The lone elephant at the zoo, Mara "entertained" visitors during the day. But behind the scenes, she was immobilized in chains and trained with a bullhook.

It didn't take long before Mara's life was to change again. The zoo threatened to sell her to a circus in Mexico, but a kindly group called "Friends of Mara" took up her cause, determined to stop the transfer. Fortunately, a very generous mother and daughter donated the funds needed to purchase Mara from the zoo. (This family is still helping Mara and PAWS all these years later, and we cannot thank them enough for their support!) Friends of Mara sent the young elephant to Florida where she lived with 80 other imported elephant orphans on a 600-acre estate owned by Nautilus exercise machine inventor Arthur Jones. After a few years, Jones began selling all the elephants, and Mara was yet again slated for sale to a circus.

That's when PAWS co-founders Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby stepped in. They had previously rescued a sickly baby elephant named "71" from the same Florida estate. When they heard about Mara's fate, they alerted Friends of Mara and quickly moved to rescue her from a life 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 (shown above with 71, circa 1993) arrived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in January 1990, and shared a habitat with 71. The two remained companions until 71's death in 2008.

Today, Mara is known for her mischievous spirit, athleticism, high energy, and love of large, leafy branches that she skillfully removes from the sanctuary's trees. She has come a long way from her real home and family in Africa - a life we can never give back to her. What we can do is give her and all of our elephants the best life possible in captivity, for the entirety of their lives.

As elephants have a natural life span of 65-70 years (though their lives in captivity are often tragically cut short due to decades spent in unnatural conditions), it takes real commitment to care for them. We are proud that we have been able to provide our elephants with stability, a spacious and enriching natural environment, and a life of peace and dignity. And it is you, our readers and donors, who make it all possible. Thank you.


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132kW Solar Energy System

Installed at ARK 2000

Above: Workmen install solar panels on top of the 20,000 sq. ft. Asian elephant barn at ARK 2000.

Solar panels line the rooftop of an 8,000 sq. ft. bull elephant barn at ARK 2000.


PAWS Goes Green!

PAWS is proud to announce that our ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas is now powered by solar energy. Clean, renewable energy supplies 97% of the electricity to our elephant barns, big cat and bear facilities, offices, and soon to be opened Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center. Not only are we helping the environment and encouraging clean air and water, we will save nearly $1.5 million in electricity costs over 25 years. This means that even more of your generous donations go directly to animal care and rescue.

PAWS contracted with SUNWorks, one of the fastest growing solar energy system providers in California, to install the 132kW system. There is an array of 420 solar panels on the rooftops of the Asian elephant barn and Prince's bull barn, which produce enough pollution-free electricity to power more than 25 homes for a year. Of course, our California climate is ideal for solar energy, with plenty of sunshine year round.

PAWS is committed to saving captive wild animals, as well as conserving our planet and its wildlife. For example, an entire tree-covered mountainside on the ARK 2000 property has been set aside to protect this vital ecosystem and the animals that depend on it. With our conversion to solar power, we further dedicate ourselves to creating a sustainable world.

Solar power has no associated air pollution emissions, so it does not contribute to global warming which is negatively affecting the world's wildlife on land and in our oceans. In its first month of operation alone, PAWS' solar power system has avoided the production of 25 tons of CO2 and carbon pollution equivalent to burning over 4,000 gallons of gasoline. This important renewable energy also requires no water to operate, so it does not pollute water resources or compete with agriculture or other important water needs.


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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.

Taking Action for Performing Wild Animals

In the 1960s and 70s, Pat was best known for her work as an animal trainer on Hollywood film and television productions, including “Gunsmoke”, “Lassie”, “Daktari”, and “Flipper.” She was the trainer for cougars Chauncey and Christopher, who graced the Lincoln Mercury “Sign of the Cat” ad campaign, and were the most recognized advertising symbols in the country at the time. Behind the scenes, Pat witnessed the pervasive neglect and abuse of performing wild animals and decided to take action. She wrote a tell-all book, The Lady and Her Tiger, exposing the inhumane treatment and calling for better standards of animal care and handling. The book went on to win an American Library Association Award and was a Book of the Month Club selection. With this bold action, Pat became the first to champion the cause of performing wild animals – and later campaigned for those in circuses and other “entertainment” – and inspired modern animal protection organizations to take up this important cause.

The Performing Animal Welfare Society is Born

Pat met Ed Stewart in 1976, and the two spent the next few years promoting The Lady & Her Tiger with television appearances on the “Today Show”, the “Tonight Show”, “The Merv Griffin Show” and other national media outlets. They also toured extensively, educating people about the serious welfare problems suffered by performing animals. In 1984 Pat and Ed established the Performing Animal Welfare Society to formalize their captive wildlife protection work. Their first effort was to create standards for the care of captive wildlife in California, which they achieved that same year with the enactment of Assembly Bill 1620. They also began investigating, protesting and exposing the abuse of wild animals in circuses. In 1986, Pat and Ed established their first sanctuary in Galt, California, to care for abused and abandoned captive wildlife. Today, under Ed’s leadership, PAWS operates three sanctuaries in California for captive wild and exotic animals, including the 2,300-acre ARK 2000 natural habitat refuge in San Andreas that is home to elephants, big cats and bears. It is the only accredited sanctuary in the country to house male elephants.

Leadership in Animal Care and Advocacy

Pat remained an outspoken advocate for captive wild animals until the end. As a recognized expert on the care of captive wildlife, she testified twice before Congress on efforts to end the use of elephants in traveling shows. She also served on several state committees to set standards for the care and handling of captive wildlife, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director’s Advisory Committee on the Humane Care and Treatment of Wild Animals, a position now filled by Ed.

Pat’s Legacy for the Animals

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.

Read Ed Stewart's 2013 tribute to Pat Derby here.

The following videos were created in honor of Pat Derby and shown during the PAWS 30th Anniversary Gala and the International Captive Wildlife Conference in November 2014.

The early years. (click on the picture to play video.)

It had to begin with elephants. (click on the picture to play video.)


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 »





PAWS Celebrates Opening of

The Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center

PAWS recently celebrated the opening of the newly completed Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center, named in honor of the late PAWS co-founder. The facility will allow on-site diagnosis and treatment of animals, sparing them the stress of transport to a specialty veterinary facility. Guests at this special, invitation-only event included many of the generous donors who helped make this dream a reality, as well as veterinarians and medical professionals.

Read more here >>>


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U.C. Davis Students

Tour ARK 2000 Sanctuary

Every year PAWS hosts a few special tours for student groups from the University of California, Davis. These tours are unique opportunities for students to gain knowledge about issues facing captive wildlife, and to learn how PAWS provides for the special needs of the animals in our care. Every animal at PAWS has a story, and students are especially moved by hearing about their lives prior to rescue, as well as their healing process after coming to our sanctuary. PAWS also benefits from these tours, as students ask thoughtful questions and bring fresh perspectives and ideas.

On January 14th, we had the pleasure of hosting 50 students enrolled in a course called Human-Animal Interactions, Benefits and Issues. This group consisted of undergraduate students with a variety of interests, including Animal Behavior, Animal Science, and Veterinary Medicine. Students toured elephant, tiger, and bear areas with PAWS President and Co-founder, Ed Stewart, and PAWS Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Jackie Gai, and also watched sanctuary manager Brian Busta demonstrate a protected-contact training session with Asian bull elephant Nicholas. The group was led by professor Lynette Hart of the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. This tour marked the 30th year that this class has toured PAWS. Dr. Hart says of the experience: "Universally, everyone LOVES the visit to ARK 2000. Somehow the experience just gets better and better every year. Especially, seeing Nic's development and responsiveness in interacting with Brian and others is remarkable. It's awe inspiring and memorable for everyone."

On January 19th, Ed Stewart, Brian Busta, and Dr. Gai hosted a group of 10 Zoological Medicine students who are currently in their 3rd year of veterinary school at U.C. Davis. The group was led by Dr. Ray Wack, faculty of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, and Chief of Service of Zoological Medicine. This intimate tour included a visit to the newly opened Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center, in-depth discussions of sanctuary medicine, and demonstrations of a few of the many medical and husbandry procedures that we routinely perform with the full cooperation of the elephants in our care, in a protected contact setting. This is the first time that this class has toured PAWS as a part of their curriculum, and we look forward to continuing this educational partnership in the future.


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Wayward Emu Finds a

Home With PAWS

In late December, residents of the California foothill community of Valley Springs began reporting sightings of an emu running loose in their town. An emu is a large bird, second in size to an ostrich. On a rainy morning in early January, after more than a week of roaming through local neighborhoods, yards and pastures, Calaveras County Animal Services (CCAS) received word that the big bird had wandered into an enclosed maintenance yard near New Hogan Lake. Finally, there was a chance to catch the swift-footed emu.

PAWS' veterinarian Dr. Jackie Gai was contacted for assistance in case tranquilization was required during the capture. It took six people - four staff members from CCAS and two park rangers - nearly three hours to finally corral the emu into a smaller, enclosed area where CCAS staff were able to gently herd the bird into a horse trailer. No tranquilizers were necessary.

Local media picked up the story, and despite numerous news reports no owner came forward to claim the bird. Click here to watch ABC10's report, "Emu Alert! Big bird loose in Valley Springs."

Dr. Gai visited the emu at the CCAS shelter where she treated the bird for worms. It soon became clear that the emu was female because she began making contented, deep drumming vocalizations and presented clumps of grass (a courtship display) to Dr. Gai during her visit. After the mandatory holding time had passed, and no owner had come forward, PAWS agreed to provide a home for the bird at our Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge in Herald, California. "Georgette", as she is now called, arrived at the refuge in late January (watch video below), comfortably and safely transported in a horse trailer by Henning Schreiber, Animal Services Manager for Calaveras County.

Georgette now lives with a flock of 10 emus (watch PAWS' video below) and four Simitar Horned Oryx at the Amanda Blake refuge. She is cared for by a dedicated PAWS staff and now has safety, companionship and room to roam in a very large enclosed pasture area filled with trees, grass, natural vegetation, covered shelters and a winding creek. Welcome, Georgette!

Watch PAWS' video about Georgette here>>>


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Above: Alexander, black leopard


PAWS' Animal Habitats Designed

to Encourage Natural Behaviors

Every animal living at a PAWS sanctuary receives expert care tailored specifically to the individual's needs and preferences. This comprehensive approach to animal care incorporates a broad spectrum of factors intended to promote physical and emotional health and overall well-being. Habitats at PAWS' 2,300-acre ARK 2000 sanctuary are thoughtfully designed and constructed to give animals room to roam and include elements that encourage them to express their natural instincts like digging, climbing, swimming, and foraging for food.

Wild leopards will often climb trees to find a safe place to rest and when not in trees they are experts at hiding in tall grass where they stalk their prey. Though PAWS' black leopard Alexander was born in captivity, like most captive wild animals he is genetically hard-wired with the instincts of a wild leopard. Alexander's habitat at ARK 2000 includes a majestic oak and many pine trees, but one of his favorite places to spend his days is resting high up on a specially-designed platform where he can watch birds and observe all of the activities of the sanctuary.

When Alexander moved into his new habitat at ARK 2000 in 2013, he explored every inch of it and seemed especially excited about a tall platform with big logs leaning against it. From atop this elevated perch, he can alternate between taking comfortable naps and gazing at the world below. When watchful keepers noticed that an area of the platform was beginning to wear down and needed replacement, they put the word out and PAWS volunteer Joey Harvey stepped up to make repairs and build a beautiful new ramp for Alexander. Joey has generously given his time and talents over the past several years to construct a number of elevated wooden platforms for PAWS' lions and tigers, which the animals truly enjoy.

Confiscated from a private home in Texas after injuring a child, Alexander was 11 months old when he arrived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in 1998. He lived in Galt for 13 years, and although he was comfortable, it was the dream of PAWS' co-founder, the late Pat Derby, to give Alex a special place to live: a much larger, tree-filled habitat that he could explore and enjoy. Pat's dream was made possible by an incredibly generous donor, and in 2013 Alexander moved from Galt to his new home at ARK 2000. Click here to watch the video of his move.

PAWS is forever grateful for the support of our donors and volunteers, whose dedication to the animals greatly enhances the quality of care that we strive to provide. Heartfelt thanks to Audrey Steele Burnand and family for donating the funds to build Alexander's habitat, and to Joey Harvey for building the new ramp for Alexander.

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PAWS' 2017 Elephant Grape Stomp:

An Afternoon In TUSKany

The 11th annual "Elephant Grape Stomp: An Afternoon In TUSKany" will take place on April 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m at ARK 2000 in San Andreas. As PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, once explained in her blog, Rumblings From PAWS, the idea for the PAWS "Grape Stomp" originated with the elephants themselves, who have a fondness for "everything grape."

When Pat and Ed were caring for the sickly young elephant, 71, Pat searched for fruits that 71 would eat. She came across an anecdote about a group of elephants in Africa who gorged themselves on a tree filled with overripe, fermented fruit, becoming a "riotous party of drunken elephants." Pat discovered that 71 would occasionally eat small amounts of a variety of fruits, but she devoured none of them as quickly as she did grapes. Soon, local vineyards began to donate their pruned vines to PAWS, which 71 and the other elephants ate like candy. As a celebration of elephants and their beloved grapes, the Grape Stomp fundraiser was created.

The highlight of this event is always the Ms./Mr. TUSKany contest where you get to vote for your favorite elephant, with the winner being "crowned" Ms. or Mr. TUSKany. The "crown" is actually a beautiful edible bouquet made of favorite elephant foods, and first and second runners-up get a tasty bouquet as well. (The other elephants each get a special treat later that day.) Previous winners include Lulu, Maggie, Nicholas and the late Wanda, with Maggie the toughest contender, winning three times.

Tickets for the Grape Stomp are $100 per person and include Tuscan cuisine (vegetarian and vegan) courtesy of Il Fornaio, wine tasting provided by more than a dozen of the California Gold Country's award-winning wineries (see list below), a silent auction to benefit the elephants, and shuttle service around the ARK 2000 sanctuary - allowing you to visit the lions, tigers, bears, leopard, and of course, the elephants. This is an adults-only event. The winner of the 2017 Ms./Mr. TUSKany Contest will be announced at 2 p.m.


Click here to learn more about the Grape Stomp, and to buy your tickets and vote for your favorite elephant(s) online. You may also call our office at (209) 745-2606, M-F, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST, to charge tickets and vote. Tickets are $100 each and must be purchased in advance of the event, "votes" are $5 each. Ticket sales and voting end on Thursday, April 13; tickets will not be available for purchase at the door.

No grapes are actually stomped at the event!

As we go to press, area wineries that will be participating in this year's event include: Bodega del Sur, Black Sheep, Irish Family Vineyards, Ironstone, Michael David, Milliaire, Moody Ridge, Renner, Stevenot, Val du Vino, Vina Moda and Zucca Mountain.

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Thank you February Amazon

"Wish List" Donors

Carol Haft: one gallon Red Cell, one 10 lb. Psyllium, one Probiocin. Amy Alexander: one CosequinDS 132#. Patricia L. Connelly: one bag Missing Link Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat, two cases copy paper. Gary: one Emcelle Tocopherol (liquid Vitamin E). Patricia D. Cove: one 40 lb. box of oranges. Tricia Downey: one 40 lb. box of oranges. Shannon Sherwood: one Probiocin. Michele Smith: one CosequinDS,132#. Nancy Gordon: one 10 lb. Psyllium. Carrie E Gish: one 20 lb. Psyllium, one Duralactin, 180#, one Probiocin, one bag Blue Buffalo. Debra Frantz: one bag Blue Buffalo, one CosequinDS, 132#. June Banniser: one Renal Essentials, 60#. Julie Hartz (in memory Judi Reynolds): two Probiocin. Melissa Morgan: three Probiocin. Peggy Buckner: four Probiocin. Lauren Michaels: one CosequinDS, 132#. Anonymous Donors: one 5 lb. Missing Link Ultimate Equine Skin & Coat, one 10 lb. 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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