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October, 2009 

This letter is a copy of correspondence sent to:

  • United States Secretary of Agriculture - Tom Vilsack
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture - Deputy Undersecretary for Regulatory Programs- Ann Wright
  • Acting APHIS Administrator  - Kevin Shea
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Deputy Administrator Animal Care - Dr. Chester Gibson
  • Congressman Sam Farr

On behalf of the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) we are writing about the future care of Queenie (Boo) -- the remaining elephant at the Davenport compound.  Because of recent developments surrounding Will Davenport and his surrender of his USDA license and the pending legal action against him, PAWS is contacting you to express our offer and our intentions regarding Queenie, and to provide you with necessary background information on our organization and facilities.

This letter is intended to represent PAWS’ formal offer to commit to life-time care for Queenie – providing her permanent sanctuary – and at no cost to the United States government.

PAWS is a nonprofit organization founded 25 years ago.  PAWS’ founders and directors have over 60 years of combined experience in caring for elephants, as well as other captive wildlife.

If you decide to send Queenie to PAWS, we want to assure you that we would work cooperatively with representatives of the USDA and regulatory agency personnel to ensure her safe transport to, and transition into, our Northern California sanctuary.
We understand that because of Queenie’s background and her age, there will be many factors to consider in her relocation.  Upon arrival to PAWS, Queenie will be carefully evaluated for any necessary treatments she may require, her diet will be assessed, and progress reports and updates will be available upon request.
Since Queenie has spent much of her 52 years confined to small spaces or chained, it is important to note that PAWS is world-renowned for our progressive foot and joint treatments and our excellent care for arthritic elephants.  We routinely host veterinary and behavior workshops and conferences for elephant caregivers from facilities around the globe.

At PAWS, Queenie would be housed in our 20,000 square foot Asian elephant barn.  After her period of introduction, and when it is determined she can safely join the other four female Asian elephants, she will have liberty to roam the vast hillsides of ARK2000 as she pleases – exploring trees, grasses, ponds and the sunny slopes.

PAWS currently houses four African elephants and five Asian elephants: 

  • Mara, an African elephant who had been in a baby petting zoo and then sold to a Mexican circus, then rescued and relocated to PAWS.
  • Lulu, an African elephant retired from the San Francisco Zoo.
  • Maggie, an African elephant retired from the Alaska Zoo.
  • Ruby, an African elephant retired from the Los Angeles Zoo.
  • Wanda, an Asian elephant retired from the Detroit Zoo.
  • Rebecca, an older Asian elephant retired from Ringling Brothers circus.
  • Annie, an Asian elephant who retired from the Milwaukee Zoo.
  • Gypsy, an older Asian elephant from the Hawthorn Corporation.
  • Nicholas, an adolescent Asian bull elephant from the Hawthorn Corporation.

The following is an overview of our organization and our sanctuaries:

  • The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) was founded 25 years ago.
  • PAWS provides sanctuary for abandoned, abused or retired performing animals and victims of the exotic animal trade.  At our sanctuaries, animals live in peace.

  • PAWS has developed and maintained its animal sanctuaries with no incidents and has earned an excellent reputation from local neighbors, regional communities, and international governments and wildlife facilities around the world.

  • PAWS maintains three sanctuaries for captive wildlife in Northern California, USA. Herald, California.  Our largest sanctuary, ARK2000, is 2,300 acres of pristine, natural habitat.

  • PAWS has coordinated the safe transport of numerous elephants from around the country to our facility.

  • PAWS has been at the forefront of international efforts to rescue and provide appropriate, humane sanctuary.  PAWS is internationally recognized as a leader in animal welfare.
  • All of PAWS’ sanctuary enclosures are designed to provide natural and enriching habitats.  Each includes natural grasses, numerous trees and special enrichments for individual animals with consideration for any health or psychological complications which might preclude their ability to engage in normal activities.
  • Enclosures for healthy animals are designed to replicate, as closely as possible, wild habitats for that species; specially designed environments are constructed for older, arthritic or injured individuals.

  • PAWS has been featured on many international media programs: Animal Planet, Discovery Network, Public Broadcasting Programs, Entertainment Tonight, The Crusaders, Inside Edition, Nightline, Inside America’s Courts, The World’s Most Dangerous Animals, Dateline, 20/20, Animal Planet, The Leeza Show, Montel Williams, The Today Show, CBS Evening News, The Fine Living Network.   Each news program was dedicated to educating the public on the need to protect performing animals, the importance of providing sanctuary for rescued and retired animals, the urgent need to preserve wildlife habitat and the need to control captive breeding of exotic animal species.
  • PAWS protects wild species and their habitat with international programs established in India, Mexico, Africa and Cambodia to diminish human/animal conflicts and to establish protected areas for wildlife.

  • At PAWS’ sanctuaries, rescued animals live in peaceful and 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 and live in peace and dignity for the remainder of their lives.

  • 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.
  • PAWS animals are cared for by a team of knowledgeable, well trained, and compassionate keepers, wildlife specialists, and veterinarians, who together provide round-the-clock care.
  • PAWS has an excellent track record of animal health maintenance, disease prevention, behavior enrichment and constant monitoring of all of the animals – promoting the best quality of life.

  • PAWS respects the integrity of individual animals, providing safe, healthy and secure refuge and enclosures specifically designed for the unique animal which it supports. Individually designed enclosures encourage natural behavior and dedicated keeping staff monitor diets and health 24/7.

  • With the exception of a strict, limited number of planned educational events annually, PAWS’ facilities are not open to the public.

We look forward to hearing from you regarding Queenie’s future.  If you have any further questions about PAWS or our offer, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

In closing, we thank you for the opportunity to provide a peaceful, permanent home for Queenie.


Pat Derby
President and Founder



Performing Animal Welfare Society
PO Box 849, Galt, CA 95632

(209) 745-2606 office/shelter
(209) 745-1809 fax

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