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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.
Learn More »





A Message From

PAWS President Ed Stewart

Dear PAWS Friend,

There is a big cat crisis in the U.S. and it’s spiraling out of control! Unscrupulous people are breeding tigers, lions and other big cats for profit, whether it’s to exploit cubs for paid photo sessions, display them in dilapidated roadside zoos, or sell them as exotic “pets” who will languish in someone’s backyard. Some will be forced to perform tricks in circuses or shows at county fairs. These people don’t care about the animals or what happens to them when the animals are no longer profitable or become too dangerous to handle, but we do. . . and we know that you do too. We know that each life is precious and that every animal has a story to tell. . .

Read Ed's entire message here>>


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Please Sign Our Petition!

More than 50,000 Names on

Bob Barker/PAWS Petition to

Protest Use of Live Elephant

in New Film Production!

Last month Bob Barker and PAWS joined together on a petition asking FJ Productions to reconsider use of a live elephant in its production of the film, Saving Flora, about an elephant fleeing a menacing circus with the help of two teens. The response has been tremendous! More than 50,000 people have signed the petition so far, and we are working toward 75,000 signatures to send a very strong and clear message that the public does not want to see elephants used for entertainment.

In real life, the elephant used in the film, Tai, is subjected to the same training methods used in abusive circuses, and has even been made to perform in circuses. Have Trunk Will Travel, the California-based company that owns her, was videotaped by Animal Defenders International (click here to view) during a training session in which handlers forcefully struck and hooked elephants with a bullhook - a weapon resembling a fireplace poker with a sharpened metal tip and hook.

The petition on calls for FJ Productions to reconsider its use of Tai (or any live elephant) and instead employ a computer-generated elephant. In addition, PAWS, Bob Barker, top celebrities, elephant sanctuaries, national animal protection organizations, and conservationists signed an open letter to FJ Productions, urging the company to replace Tai with a computer-generated elephant. Read the letter here.

PAWS President Ed Stewart has long referred to Bob Barker as "the world's most important animal activist." We are pleased to work together with him on this petition and its very important message.

Have you signed the petition yet? If not, you can sign now by clicking on the link below! Ask your friends, family and colleagues to sign, and share widely on social media.


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Elephants Get Arthritis Too:

How PAWS' Veterinarians

Provide Pain Relief

Listen to Dr. Paul Christo's Radio Show

Aches and Gains Featuring PAWS

Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Jackie Gai (above) and Director of Science, Research and Advocacy Catherine Doyle were featured on a very special radio show this month talking about elephants. They appeared on Aches and Gains, an award winning, nationally syndicated SIRIUS XM radio talk show on overcoming pain, hosted by Dr. Paul Christo, one of the world's leading pain specialists. In a two-part program, he focuses on elephants in captivity and the health challenges they face due to unnatural confines. Like humans, elephants experience painful diseases, including foot disease and crippling arthritis. Dr. Christo states: "Living conditions in zoos and circuses lead to pain and suffering often hidden from the public."

In the show, Catherine uncovers what life is like for elephants in zoos and circuses, and what PAWS is doing to improve captive elephants' lives. Dr. Gai shares how she detects pain in elephants, and some surprising methods of treating it. You can listen to Part One of the show here, and Part Two here.

PAWS thanks Dr. Christo for presenting this special program on pain in elephants (animal topics are not usually part of the show). We also thank David Reuben for making this important show happen, and for his ongoing dedication to raising awareness about elephants in captivity.


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PAWS Celebrates the Five Year Anniversary of Ben the Bear's Arrival

This year marks five years since Ben, a hybrid black bear, arrived at PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary. He is the only one of our bears who can claim to have been transported to PAWS via "Bear Force One," courtesy of FedEx!

Ben came from Jambbas Ranch Tours in North Carolina, where he was confined in a small and barren cement-floored cage for six long years, just so tourists could gawk at him. Bears are intelligent, curious and active animals, yet Ben was unable to do anything that wild bears naturally do, such as climb, forage or explore. His only source of enrichment was an old bowling ball and a few decrepit stumps of wood. Ben spent his time repetitively pacing in his cage - a sign of chronic stress and boredom.

Thanks to efforts by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA and concerned citizens, Ben was finally freed from his miserable cage and readied for transfer to ARK 2000. Upon hearing Ben's story, FedEx agreed to fly him to California, dubbing the plane "Bear Force One." When Ben was released into his new sanctuary home, it was likely the first time he had ever felt grass beneath his feet.

Today, Ben explores a spacious enclosure in the Bob Barker Bear Habitat where space is measured in acres, not feet. He enjoys searching for favorite foods that his caretakers hide for him, including watermelon, apples and berries. His enclosure is filled with shady trees, natural vegetation, grass, and a pool that Ben loves to swim in year round. Sadly, Ben had been declawed, so it is harder for him to engage in certain bear behaviors, such as tearing apart logs to root out insects. Nevertheless, he is an easy-going and responsive bear who has grown confident in his surroundings.

PAWS is pleased to report that Jambbas Ranch Tours is no longer open to the public. The anniversary of Ben's arrival reminds us that there are other bears who still suffer in horrific conditions in roadside attractions, cruelly forced to perform ridiculous tricks in traveling shows, and bred for cub petting operations where the cubs are discarded after they become larger and more dangerous to handle. Thanks to your support, PAWS is there to provide safe refuge for bears like Ben and other wild animals in need.

Please consider making a special donation to PAWSin honor of Ben's anniversary by clicking here.

Watch a video of Ben the Bear's rescue here.


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The Tide Continues to Turn

for Captive Elephants

New York State Bans

Use of Elephants in Entertainment!

New York State just became the second state to end the use of elephants for entertainment. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Elephant Protection Act into law, which will ban elephants in entertainment acts such as circuses, carnivals, and parades. The law, sponsored by Senator Terrence Murphy and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, goes into effect in two years. New York joins Illinois in prohibiting performing elephants.

Governor Cuomo said in a statement: "The use of elephants in these types of settings is dangerous to their health and potentially abusive. The Elephant Protection Act furthers this administration's efforts to fight animal cruelty, and create a stronger, more humane New York."

PAWS actively supported both the New York State and Illinois bills, and we co-sponsored the successful drive to ban cruel bullhooks in California, ending the use of this menacing weapon designed to control elephants through fear and pain. That law goes into effect on January 1, 2018. We also teamed up on the statewide ban on bullhooks in Rhode Island. Without the bullhook, handlers cannot use elephants for rides, circuses, parades and other entertainment.

PAWS continues to work toward a day when no wild animal is abused and exploited for entertainment. Animals like lioness Camba and elephants Nicholas, Prince and Gypsy. Their days of performing ridiculous tricks through painful punishment and living in cramped cages and pens are far behind them. Today they roam spacious habitats filled with green grass and trees, amid the peace and quiet of nature.

We've been working since 1984 on these issues, and PAWS will not stop until we achieve our goal: forever ending the use of all captive wild animals in entertainment - circuses, elephant rides, tiger cub petting, TV, film and advertising. With your help, we can make it happen!

PAWS congratulates the students of the Environmental Policy Clinic at Pace College in New York, who originated the idea of the Elephant Protection Act under the guidance of professors Michelle Land and John Cronin. We also thank Bob Barker for writing to Governor Cuomo in support of this important bill, and everyone who took action to ensure its passage.


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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.



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 »





Toronto Elephants Toka and Thika:

Four Years Already at ARK 2000!

Four years ago PAWS welcomed African elephants Thika and Toka (above, napping after a mud bath) to our ARK 2000 captive wildlife sanctuary, where each day they can be seen roaming their spacious natural habitats. The third elephant who arrived with Toka and Thika from the Toronto Zoo, our much loved Iringa, was humanely euthanized in 2015 following a long history of degenerative joint and foot disease, the leading reasons for euthanasia of elephants in captivity.

When new elephants first arrive at ARK 2000, there is always a period of transition. As PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, used to say, we work on "elephant time." This means that elephants are given the space, respect and time they need to get settled in, for however long that takes. During that transition time, we get to know more about the elephants' personalities and preferences,  including affinities and comfort levels with other elephants. As a result, Thika (below) has become best friends with Mara, our longest resident at PAWS, and Toka has become attached to Maggie and Lulu.

In nature, female elephants live in tight-knit family groups in which they form enduring, lifelong bonds, and they remain with their mothers for life. The family group would not naturally include unrelated elephants. In contrast, most captive elephants were taken from their natal families in the wild as babies and exported for display in zoos and circuses, where they are housed with unrelated elephants.

In captivity elephants typically cannot choose their cage mates. Among these mostly unrelated elephants, some will get along and even form close bonds with other elephants, while others may merely tolerate one another. Some may simply be incompatible with one or more other elephants. Incompatibility can lead to bullying, injuries and even deaths, as elephants are often unable to escape one another in confined spaces.
By the time elephants arrive at PAWS they have distinct life histories that affect their behavior and attitudes toward other elephants. Fortunately, at ARK 2000 we have the time to observe the elephants and let them tell us what would be best for them - this is one of the many ways they can make choices, which we fully encourage and respect. We also have the space and flexibility to create the social blend of elephants that will be the most beneficial for everyone.

Mara and Thika (above), who are the same age, have proven to be a good combination.  Thika is the only captive born elephant among the Africans. She follows Mara up and down the hills of the habitat, and they are rarely more than a few feet away from each other. Perhaps Thika is learning from the active and confident Mara. And during the times that Thika has taken a solo swim in the lake (watch video here), Mara is never far away. Sadly, Thika's  mother rejected her shortly after birth. In nature, female elephants learn how to care for their babies by observing their own mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts, and also by helping to care for their own siblings when they are young. In captivity, it is not uncommon for mothers to reject their own calves, or even kill them, as they lack the nurturing, supportive family structure of a wild family.

Toka, Maggie and Lulu (above) are another success story. These three elephants easily integrated with one another, and can usually be found close together as they forage on natural vegetation, explore their habitat, or just rest. Toka has joined Lulu in "standing guard" over Maggie when she takes an afternoon nap. The elephants will remain until Maggie rises, and then go about their usual activities.
PAWS is honored to provide a lifelong home for Thika and Toka. It is incredibly satisfying to see them stroll through the grass, bathe and splash in a mud hole, and explore their environment in the company of other elephants. We are also happy that our keepers and veterinarians have developed close, trusting relationships with Thika and Toka, which also helped smooth the transition to their new lives at PAWS.

* * * *


Since PAWS' founding in 1984, our sanctuaries have been home to many animals rescued from circuses. Camba (above), who came from a circus in Bolivia, today enjoys a large, natural habitat at ARK 2000.


33 Years of PAWS Advocacy

Since 1984, PAWS has been rescuing captive wild animals and providing lifelong sanctuary for them - giving animals in need a safe and more natural life far away from the miseries they once endured in roadside zoos, circuses, backyard menageries, and the exotic "pet" trade. From the start, we knew that we also had to change public perception about the use of wild animals in circuses and other "entertainment," or the suffering would never end.

PAWS was one of the first organizations to document and expose circus cruelty and advocate on behalf of wild animals subjected to unnatural lives defined by deprivation, cruel training, intensive confinement, and constant transport from city to city. In a 2011 article, "The Cruelest Show on Earth", Mother Jones named PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, the circus' "no. 1 antagonist." All the while, PAWS has provided sanctuary for refugees from circuses, such as lioness Camba and elephants Nicholas, Prince (pictured above) and Gypsy who are currently in our care.

After years of hard work by PAWS and many other dedicated organizations and individuals, the tides are really turning! In September alone, two more major cities banned the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows: A unanimous vote made Portland the first city in Maine to pass this legislation, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, prohibited the use of wild and exotic animal acts. Even more places are considering similar action, including Baltimore County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

Santa Fe and Portland follow in the steps of New York City's prohibition on wild animals in circuses earlier this year and a PAWS-led ban on wild animals in entertainment in Los Angeles for which the ordinance is being drafted. The state of Illinois recently made history by barring the use of elephants in traveling shows. More than 100 U.S. localities now regulate the use of captive wildlife.

Perhaps the most dramatic sign of change was the curtain coming down on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in May. PAWS is proud of its part in passing bans on cruel bullhooks in Los Angeles and Oakland, California - the first cities to enact bans where large circuses actually performed - that preceded Ringling's remarkable decision to abandon its trademark elephant acts in 2016 and then shut down altogether. In 2016 PAWS teamed up to ban bullhooks statewide in California and Rhode Island, ensuring elephants would never again be forced to perform or give rides under threat of this menacing weapon designed to control elephants through fear and pain.

PAWS has always recognized that the only way to end the suffering of captive wild animals is to address the root problem: their use as entertainment. This includes circuses, "pay to pet" operations that use and abuse big cats and bears, roadside zoos, county fairs and Renaissance faires, the exotic "pet" industry, film productions, or any other place that exploits captive wildlife.

Despite the many great advances for captive wild animals, this is not the time to sit back and relax. There is much more work to be done. All of us at PAWS look forward to tackling the many difficult and often heartbreaking issues together with you. Truly, it is your support and action that make great things happen for the animals!

Take action now!

Support the federal Big Cat Public Safety Act to end the suffering of big cats in cruel "pay-to-pet" operations. Introduced by Congressman Jeff Denham of California, this bill better protects the public and the animals, and it needs your support.

How you can help: Please call your U.S. Representative (click here to locate name and phone number). You don't have to be an expert on the issue. What is important is that your Representative knows a constituent supports the bill.

When you call: Tell the aide who answers the phone that you live in the Representative's district, and give your zip code. Then simply say you are calling to urge the Representative to cosponsor HR 1818, the Big Cat Public Safety Act. (Click here to see if your Representative has already cosponsored the bill.) Always be calm and polite. Because few people call their legislators your call will have much more impact than an email.

Does your favorite late night talk show host feature wild animals? This is not conservation or education! Use social media to comment on the show's Facebook page and Tweet your opposition. Send an email to the show.

Initiate a performing wild animal ban in your city.Contact PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy Catherine Doyle for assistance at


* * * *



In Memoriam

PAWS Bids Farewell

to Robert the Bobcat

Robert the bobcat was still a tiny kitten dependent on his mother's milk when he was sold into the Montana exotic pet trade in 1996. His new "owner," who legally purchased Robert, hand raised him in the hopes of keeping him as a tame family pet. The family moved to California soon afterwards, where it is illegal to keep bobcats as pets. (In 1986, PAWS sponsored landmark legislation that made it illegal to own wild animals in California.) As Robert grew, it quickly became apparent that he was no house pet. Once he became aggressive his owners surrendered him to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. No matter how they are raised, bobcats are wild animals with natural instincts and needs that can't be met in captivity, and they have wild behaviors that make them dangerous to people and pets. Put simply, wild animals do not make good pets!

Robert found a permanent home at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in 1998. He lived in a tree-shaded habitat with a soft soil substrate, places to hide, structures to climb, and a high perch where he loved to rest and watch birds in the trees and the quiet activities of the sanctuary. Like so many of the animals that have called our sanctuaries home, Robert had a special affinity for PAWS co-founder Pat Derby. For Pat, Robert would run to the fence of his enclosure and greet her with a friendly purr. For the rest of us, he seemed to get a kick out of making us jump with a sudden snarl and hiss as we passed by.

The average lifespan of wild bobcats is about 12 years of age.  As Robert got older (in his early teens) he began to show signs of arthritis, so Galt supervisor Larry built special walkways and ramps that made it easier for him to get up and down from his high perches. Thanks to these special amendments to his habitats and the extra care and attention provided by our dedicated staff, Robert was able to stay active throughout his life. In April, Robert was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease by our veterinarians - a condition that is very common in elderly domestic cats, as well as captive wild cats. A few months later he began having occasional, brief seizures. To protect him from falling during a seizure, a lower platform was built so he could still rest on the high perch that was always his favorite place to survey the world around him.

Robert received extra TLC from his caregivers and special medications hidden in his food to help with his conditions. He stayed active, inquisitive, and spunky until one September day when he had a sudden grand mal seizure that was more prolonged than the few he had experienced previously. PAWS veterinarians treated and monitored him for several hours afterward, but it soon became apparent that this seizure had caused irreparable brain damage, so the difficult but most humane decision was made to gently release him from this life by euthanasia. Robert passed away on September 20th in the loving presence of Dr. Jackie Gai and supervisor Larry, who had both known him for many years. Robert was 21 years old. We will always have fond memories of his feisty spirit and his golden, ever-watchful eyes.

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Thank you October Amazon

"Wish List" Donors

Nancy Gordon: two 6 ft. folding tables. Patricia L. Connelly: one bottle Renal Essentials, 60#. Cathleen deOrnelas: two bottles Renal Essentials, 60#; three bottles CosequinDS, 132#; one gallon Optima 365; one bottle AminAvast, 60#. Frances Coletti: one gallon Optima 365; one 10 lb. bag Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coat; one bottle Renal Essentials, 60#; one bottle CosequinDS, 132#; one bottle AminAvast, 60#. Carole Bognar: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Eric Hielscher: one 5 lb. bag Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coat. Elke Riesterer:one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium; one quart Red Cell. Barbara Moran: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Nina Dillingham: one 10 lb. bag Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coat; one bottle CosequinDS, 132#. Erin R. Blatter: three bottles Renal Essentials, 60#. Lanette Cooper: one 5 lb. bag Missing Link Ultimate Skin & Coat. Anonymous Donors: one 10 lb. tub Psyllium; one bottle Renal Essentials, 60#; one bottle CosequinDS, 132#.


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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