"Celebrating Elephants"

An Oakland Zoo Annual Event


Last month, a group from PAWS that included directors and staff, attended the annual "Celebration of Elephants" at Oakland Zoo, a benefit for the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. We were inspired by the passion and dedication of the evening's featured speaker, Winnie Kiiru, a Kenyan born wildlife ecologist, and research associate with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. She has worked in conservation for the last 15 years and her passion is elephant conservation. Winnie presented "Living with Elephants: Conflict and Co-existence Around Amboseli National Park in Kenya, East Africa."


Winnie is currently involved in developing conflict mitigation strategies with particular focus on human-elephant conflict around Amboseli National Park in South West Kenya. She is the director and co-founder of EPIKenya (Environment and People In Kenya). This work involves working with communities to develop innovative and sustainable methods of alleviating human elephant conflict. Amboseli is a small National Park measuring only 392km2 and holding a population of about 1,500 elephants. The elephants roam freely in the rangelands and farmlands outside the park and thus the need for a sustainable conflict resolution strategy.


Oakland Zoo has raised more than $200,000 to assist in the important work of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants with this annual event which is always informative and great fun. We saw many PAWS friends who were enjoying the festivities and the opportunity to hear Winnie, whose lecture was so compelling.


"The Amboseli Elephants"

A must read for elephant advocates!


"The Amboseli Elephants: A Long-Term Perspective on a Long-Lived Mammal", edited by Cynthia Moss and Harvey Croze, the founders of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP), and Phyllis C. Lee, who has been closely associated with the project since 1982, compiles more than three decades of uninterrupted study of over 2,500 individual elephants. The AERP is the longest study of wild elephants in the world.


Cynthia Moss and the AERP studies have provided PAWS with critical information about wild elephants and their habitat. This book, the most comprehensive account of elephants in their natural environment to date, is a must read for everyone who struggles with the issues of captivity and is committed to the protection of wild elephants and their habitat.


"The Amboseli Elephants" can be ordered directly from the University of Chicago Press or through


To view Amboseli Trust for Elephants videos, click here.


The AZA Responds To Pat Derby's Letter


In response to Pat Derby's May 24, 2011 letter to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the AZA posted the following reply on their Facebook page.


May 26, 2011

AZA Accreditation Standards Important for Elephants


A number of people have questioned why AZA would express the opinion that sanctuaries were not a preferred option for the elephants at the Toronto Zoo, a position adopted by the Zoo's Board of Management. We're sorry that some took offense and believe it is important to respond to these questions.


Not all zoos are the same. That's why AZA's independent Accreditation Commission, which holds zoos to high and mandatory standards, is critical. This process provides people with the assurance that the animals in AZA-accredited facilities are getting the best care.


Not all sanctuaries are the same, and we did not mention any sanctuaries by name in our letter to the Toronto Zoo Board of Management. Our point was: how could you know which of these facilities deliver adequate care and which do not? In our opinion, with a lower level of public scrutiny and not having gone through anything as rigorous as the AZA accreditation process, there is not an easy way to tell. Some nursing homes without accreditation might be great places, but that extra level of assurance can be important when you are deciding where your grandmother might live.


We also wanted to point out that AZA-accredited facilities also make a significant commitment to science education and wildlife conservation - also called for in the Accreditation Standards. These are important factors when you consider why we have elephants in zoos.


One more word on standards: AZA Accreditation Standards are rising over time, and we are always striving to improve the care for elephants. You can always point to times in the past when standards were not as high or when things did not go as planned - certainly true for zoos and for sanctuaries. But, what we have in common is that we all love elephants and are all trying to do what is right for these magnificent creatures.


Elephants inspire passionate feelings. With that in mind, please keep your posts constructive. Destructive or mean-spirited comments will be deleted.



Pat Derby's Response To

AZA's Facebook Posting


Friday, May 27, 2011

AZA Accreditation Standards Detrimental for Elephants


PAWS would like to thank the many elephant advocates who have posted comments and responses to our recent letter to AZA. Public opinion is critical to effect change within this archaic institution whose arrogant claims are unsubstantiated, and driven by a desire to placate a diverse assortment of individual zoos.


AZA's response (above) is redundant and misleading. AZA'S independent Accreditation Commission does not "hold zoos to high and mandatory standards"; many accredited and affiliated facilities violate their own inadequate standards which still allow bullhooks, electricity and overnight chaining as acceptable management "tools."


Since PAWS was the only sanctuary that made a formal offer to take the Toronto Zoo elephants and Ed Stewart, PAWS director, flew to Toronto to present our proposal, it is disingenuous to state that the defamatory remarks about sanctuaries "did not mention any sanctuary by name."


I am struck by one very cogent remark about science education and wildlife conservation as "important factors when you consider why we have elephants in zoos." The sacrifices required of the elephants which we all profess to love are a high price to pay for "science education." Captivity and the paltry accreditation standards set for zoos is not "what is right for these magnificent creatures."


Pat Derby






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Bullhooks Banned! Your Letters Do Make A Difference! 


On Wednesday, June 1, 2011, the Fulton County Commission in Georgia voted 4-1 to ban the use of bullhooks by circus elephant trainers. The ordinance only covers unincorporated south Fulton. While it would apply to small circuses that set up in parking lots, it will not affect major shows at Philips Arena in Atlanta.


The coalition of animal rights groups that turned out at Wednesday's commission meeting said they'll be taking their cause to Atlanta and Gwinnett and DeKalb counties. "This is a beginning," said Julie Robertson, a board member of Georgia Animal Rights and Protection. "You have to start somewhere. You have to lead the way."


Bullhooks are sharp-tipped instruments resembling fire pokers, which are used to poke, prod and at times, beat elephants. Circus representatives, and even the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, characterized them as "guides" and "elephant husbandry tools."


For more information,

click here.



PAWS Receives

4-Star Rating 



On June 1, 2011, PAWS President, Pat Derby, received the following letter from Charity Navigator's CEO: 


Dear Pat Derby:


On behalf of Charity Navigator, I wish to congratulate Performing Animal Welfare Society on achieving our coveted 4-star rating for sound fiscal management.


Charity Navigator, America's premier charity evaluator, highlights the fine work of efficient charities such as your own, and provides donors with essential information needed to give them greater  confidence in the charitable choices they make.


Based on the most recent financial information available, we have calculated a new rating for your organization. We are proud to announce Performing Animal Welfare Society has earned our third consecutive 4-star rating for its ability to efficiently manage and grow its finances. Only 13% of the charities we rate have received at least 3 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Performing Animal Welfare Society consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way, and outperforms most other charities in America. This "exceptional" designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Performing Animal Welfare Society from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.


Our favorable review of Performing Animal Welfare Society's fiscal health will be visible on our website as of June 1st.


We wish you the best in all of your charitable endeavors.




Ken Berger

President & Chief Executive Officer



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