Gracie exhibits flehmen response (see below)

If you've ever shared your life with a cat, chances are you may have seen it make a funny or grimacing-type face, one that may have made you think your cat was smiling. This behavior is called "flehming" or "flehmen response." It serves a very important function for all cats, large and small. This is how cats sniff pheromones.


Gracie lives at our Galt Sanctuary

Pheromones are chemicals unique to a particular species. For instance, with cats, cheek pheromones rubbed against objects can tell other cats if that cat is friendly, or if the territory is owned. Pheromones in urine notify other cats if the cat is intact or fixed, and whether it's a male or a female. All cats use this second sniff mechanism to analyze pheromones, but male cats show the flehmen cat sneer most often. This may be because they are particularly attuned to checking out sex-related information - even if they're neutered.


Cats have a second scenting mechanism called Jacobson's organs, or vomeronasal organs. These are found between the hard palate of the mouth and the septum of the nose. Jacobson's organs link to the hypothalamus in the brain that serves as sort of a switchboard to direct information to other areas. Tiny ducts connect them to openings behind the cat's teeth in the roof of the mouth. Cats flehmen when the tongue traps pheromones, then flick-transfers to the duct in the roof of the mouth.


Have you ever noticed your cat going crazy over a certain garment you've worn, or your shoes after you've been outside? Your cat is discerning all the wonderful smells that you've encountered, and although you don't smell anything, your cat smells a whole world of information.


PAWS photographer, Janice Clark, captured Gracie's "smile" on video.
FLEHMEN RESPONSE: Gracie the Tiger
FLEHMEN RESPONSE: Gracie the Tiger



Dr. Jackie Gai, PAWS veterinarian, examines Ben, assisted by registered veterinary
technician, Tami Chleborad, and ARK 2000 sanctuary manager, Brian Busta.


Ben the Bear's Checkup & Microchipping


The California Department of Fish and Game now requires all captive bears (and other potentially dangerous animals) to be microchipped. This relatively new regulation was created after a tragic incident several years ago, when a tiger was shot dead in Southern California after running loose for several days. The tiger had no microchip or tattoo, and to date no one can prove from what facility it escaped.


PAWS veterinarian Dr. Jackie Gai anesthetized Ben in order to implant a tiny microchip just under his skin. The chip is the same kind used in dogs and cats, and it has a unique number which can be detected by waving a special electronic reader over the skin. The chip number has been registered with Fish and Game, as is required by the new regulation.


Ben's paw

While he was safely asleep, Dr. Gai gave Ben a thorough physical exam, checking him carefully from head to toe. Overall, Ben appears to be in fairly good health, but a few abnormalities were found during his exam which reflect on his history of confinement in a small concrete pen. Sadly, he is declawed on all four feet. In nature, bears use their claws to climb trees, to mark tree bark, and to dig for shelter or food. Without claws, Ben is unable to express any of these normal bear behaviors. The pads on the bottoms of his feet, which are normally thick and black, are worn thin and pink in places. Dr. Gai also noted that Ben had very poor muscle tone for an adult male bear in his prime. Most of his teeth are abnormally worn down, probably from past chewing on his cage. 


While Ben will never regrow his claws, his footpads should thicken now that he spends most of his time walking on dirt and grass instead of pacing on concrete. His heart and lungs sounded healthy, his eyes are clear, and all of his blood test results were within normal range. We look forward to watching Ben build strong muscles as he walks up and down the hills, exploring his spacious habitat.



Ms. TUSKany 2012: Maggie wins again! Good Day Sacramento's Courtney Dempsey, and PAWS co-founder Ed Stewart, present Maggie with her "crown."

PAWS' Passport To TUSKany 

On Saturday, Oct. 20, more than 500 guests presented their "passports" at the ARK 2000 gate and entered our sanctuary, a place that once a year we dub "TUSKany."  


PAWS founder Pat Derby

(right) visits with guests.

The event was the 8th annual One and Only Elephant Grape Stomp, a benefit for PAWS elephants. This year's event marked the first public appearance of Ben, the bear who arrived at PAWS in August. Guests had the opportunity to observe Ben, and the other bears, as well as the tigers, lions and elephants, in their vast natural habitats at ARK 2000.


The highlight of our last three Elephant Grape Stomp events has been the announcement of the winner of the Ms./Mr. TUSKany "pageant." This year was no exception. The winner is chosen by the highest number of votes; each vote costs $5. Voting takes place during the 60 days prior to the event, as well on the day of. This year's event was made even more fun with long-time PAWS volunteer Glory Quiggle rallying votes with the help of Miss Calaveras County contestants.


PAWS volunteer Sylvia Arispe's two grandchildren created the crown that was presented to Ms. TUSKany.

When the competitive dust had settled, our honorary hostess for the event, Courtney Dempsey from "Good Day Sacramento", announced that Maggie was once again voted Ms. TUSKany. Annie came in second, with Lulu third and Mara fourth. Maggie was presented with her edible "crown" and all PAWS elephants received special elephant-edible "swags" with their dinners that evening. Hail to thee, Ms. TUSKany!


Thank you to the creative volunteers who made the gorgeous "ele-edible" adornments for each of the pachy princesses/princes: Sylvia Arispe and her grandchildren Noa and Elijah; Mimi Durand; Gemma Gyling; Ruth Huffman; Janelle Kessler; Lorrie Morris; and Lori Swearingen.


The Daze of Wine, Pasta and Chocolate!

Thank you to Jeff Newland and his Il Fornaio chefs and team. These special friends have been filling our plates with their wonderful fare for more than 13 years!


Thank you to all the regional wineries who filled our guest's glasses. This event could not happen without your continued, generous and delicious support! Our 2012 winery participants were: Black Sheep, Bodega Del Sur, Bogle Winery, Catano Winery, Chateau Routon, Chatom Vineyards, Frog's Tooth Wines, Hovey Wines, Irish Vineyards, Ironstone, Lavender Ridge Winery, Milliaire, Stevenot, Vina Moda, Val du Vino, and Zucca Mountain Vineyards. Special thanks to Jill and Mike Ogburn, who served as our winery hospitality team.


We also extend a yummy nod to the crowd-pleasing Dessert Cart (pictured right). The Dessert Cart has been donating decadent treats for our guests for many years.


Transportation around "TUSKany" was once again provided by Blue Mountain Transit. PAWS sincerely appreciates and thanks our generous friend, Devra Lewis, and her Blue Mountain shuttle team for donating their services at our events for the last eight years.


To everyone who donated items for this year's silent auction. . . many many thanks for another very successful event! And last, but certainly not least, thank you to our volunteers for your dedication, generous spirit and hard work before, during and after this event!


We sincerely hope you will remember to patronize the businesses who so graciously help us year after year!


View the following video/slide show of this year's One and Only Elephant Grape Stomp, including Maggie's Ms. TUSKany win.






From Our Friends At Amboseli Trust For Elephants


No one at ATE expected their video to go viral, but that's exactly what happened when they posted this five-and-a-half-minute video showing their rescue of a baby elephant that had fallen into a well. Within days, millions of people had seen the video after it was picked up by major news agencies around the world. YouTube views have now passed the 1.5 million mark and continue to rise. You may have already seen this, but if you have not, grab a tissue and watch the "feel good" video of the year!

ATE team rescue another baby elephant from a well

ATE team rescue another

baby elephant from a well



How can you help?
Adopt A PAWS Animal
If you would like to help our animals, one of the best ways is to become an "adoptive parent," or give a PAWS adoption as a gift to an animal lover in your life. PAWS adoptions are symbolic adoptions only. No animal will be sent!
PAWS Partnerships

Help us change the life of a victim of captivity by becoming a PAWS Partner.

PAWS partnerships help support our sanctuary operations and the day-to-day care of the animals.

Other Ways To Help
You can help us make sure captive wildlife in need of shelter will always have a PAWS sanctuary to call home!
Donate To PAWS
Three ways to give and every donation matters.
PAWS 2012 Holiday Open House
ARK 2000 opens on December 8, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., for our annual Holiday Open House. Tickets for this event must be purchased in advance. Tickets are $50 adults; $25 for kids or seniors. For more information, click on the calendar link below. 
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P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632
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