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Veterinary Care



Jackie Gai, DVM

Dr. Gai began working with PAWS in 2001. She is dedicated to providing excellent quality, compassionate veterinary care to all of PAWS' animals and spends a minimum of two days a week on site. She is on call for emergencies 24/7, and is an integral part of PAWS' animal care and management team.

Dr. Gai began working with captive wildlife at the Oakland Zoo in 1989. She started out as a volunteer and docent, was hired as a zookeeper, and ultimately worked as an Associate Veterinarian for several years. A lifelong interest in elephants intensified during her time as an elephant keeper, helping to hand-raise an African elephant calf named Kijana.

Dr. Gai was the head veterinarian for the Micke Grove Zoo from 2002-2009, and has also been providing veterinary care to sanctuaries, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and select private clients in northern California since 2001.

Believing strongly in community service, Dr. Gai has served on the California Department of Fish and Game Director's Advisory Committee on the Humane Care and Treatment of Wild Animals, the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians' Legislative and Animal Welfare Committee, and the University of California, Davis, Small Animal External Advisory Committee. She also volunteers her services during disasters, such as helping to care for oiled birds after the Cosco Busan oil spill.

A graduate of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Gai believes in "paying forward" the mentorship she received throughout the years and enjoys speaking to student groups and mentoring young people interested in caring for captive wildlife. She has given presentations at veterinary conferences on a variety of topics, has been an invited speaker at symposia, and is the primary author on two published, peer-reviewed, scientific papers — with more in the works. 

Dr. Gai has a heartfelt commitment towards meeting the medical, physical, social, and emotional needs of captive wild animals. She is especially dedicated to the care of geriatric elephants, and believes that veterinarians and animal caregivers can do much to improve the quality of life for elderly animals of all species.


  Dr. Gai with Nicholas


A Message From Dr. Gai

“Sanctuary,” by definition, is a place of refuge and protection. PAWS exists to provide sanctuary to elephants and other animals, many of whom have spent the majority of their lives serving humans’ desire for entertainment. We have never refused to accept an animal because of illness, and we are wholeheartedly committed to providing a safe, healthy, nurturing environment for every animal that comes to PAWS.

This commitment includes a program of excellent veterinary care throughout the life of the animal, no matter what health problems may arise. PAWS also has a tremendous commitment to the health and safety of staff and visitors to the sanctuary.

Our quarantined Asian elephants are housed separately from all other elephants, and strict biosecurity protocols are used in these areas to protect both elephants and people. Written policy prohibits visitors from entering quarantine areas. Our African elephants, as well as Nicholas the Asian bull, are housed separately from the quarantine area, and these elephants have consistently tested negative for tuberculosis.

PAWS consistently meets or exceeds industry standards for disease testing and biosecurity. We work closely with State and local Departments of Public Health, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure that our protocols are sound. Representatives from all of these agencies have visited us, reviewed our procedures, and all have expressed confidence in our level of care. One of these agencies was so highly complimentary of our protocols, that they asked us if they could use them to help rewrite their own protocols.

As PAWS’ veterinarian, I am proud of the care that our animals receive, and I am also impressed with the organization’s commitment to the health and safety of visitors and staff.



A profile of Dr. Gai was featured in "California Veterinarian", a publication of the California Veterinary Medical Association. Click on photo above to read.


Read Dr. Gai's article, "Caring for Elderly Animals", published in PAWS' online newsletter on October 28, 2014. Click on the photo above to read.


Read Dr. Gai's report, "Veterinary Care for Elephants in a Protected Contact Management System",

published in PAWS' online newsletter on August 27, 2015. Click on the photo above to read.





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

209/745-2606 office/santuary
209/745-1809 fax

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