Celebrating 30 years of protection, education, advocacy & sanctuary.
PAWS Tiger Winston
Receives Specialized Medical Care

In late 2013, PAWS' tiger keepers noticed a pink growth just inside Winston tiger's left nostril. PAWS veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Gai, put him under general anesthesia to get a closer look and to try to remove the mass.

Winston inside the CT scanner at UCD


Tigers, just like dogs, cats, and other animals (including humans), can develop nasal polyps. These are benign growths inside the nasal passages which can block airflow and become infected. Dr. Gai discovered that the mass was much larger than expected - much too large to be removed safely outside of a hospital setting. It was also infected and drainage from the mass was causing Winston to cough. After collecting a biopsy and performing a complete physical examination, Dr. Gai spoke to colleagues at the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital (VMTH), who agreed to help.


On March 11th, PAWS co-founder Ed Stewart and Dr. Gai took Winston to U.C. Davis in a large, specially-designed transport cage bedded with hay. A CT scan was performed to obtain a detailed image of the nasal mass so that surgeons could plan how to remove it. The scan showed that the mass was very large and was attached to the wall of the nasal passage by a small "stalk." Under the skilled hands of Dr. Lynelle Johnson and Dr. Larry Galuppo an endoscope was used to carefully excise the mass. Fortunately the biopsy results revealed that the mass was not cancerous - although there is a risk that it could re-grow someday.


The vast majority of the veterinary procedures that our animals need are performed at PAWS by our capable and highly experienced veterinary staff led by Dr. Gai. Physical exams, x-rays, and some minor surgeries are done on-site where the animals live, ensuring the least of amount of stress for everyone involved, especially for the animal patient. There are times, however, when advanced diagnostics such as CT scans or MRIs, or major surgeries are needed. We are fortunate to have an excellent relationship with specialists at the U.C. Davis VMTH, and we are grateful for their willingness to lend their expertise to our more challenging medical cases.


Winston has recovered well from his procedure and is now breathing comfortably. Winston is estimated to be at least 17 years old; he was one of the 39 tigers rescued from Colton in 2004.


Your generous donations help fund veterinary care for Winston and all of the animals at PAWS. We thank you for your ongoing and caring support.




High school student Avanti Mohan (pictured)
studied elephants at PAWS for her senior thesis.
Student Mentored By PAWS Visits ARK 2000


Catherine Doyle, PAWS' Director of Science, Research and Advocacy, has been mentoring Avanti Mohan, a Massachusetts high school senior whose year-long thesis focuses on elephants. Personal experience plays an important part in Avanti's project, so PAWS invited her to ARK 2000 to learn about the ways elephants behave and communicate in a sanctuary setting. For two days Avanti shadowed Catherine during her observations of African elephants Mara, Lulu and Maggie, part of a long-term behavioral study PAWS began in August 2013. Avanti recorded elephant behaviors alongside Catherine.


Here is what Avanti had to say about her experience:


"I had such amazing time at PAWS. It was incredible to see the elephants before my eyes and to spend time observing three of the female African elephants, Lulu, Maggie, and Mara, as well as getting to see the elephants from Toronto. I not only was able to apply my learning from my project and see the elephant's interactions, I got to truly understand how remarkable each elephant is as an individual with a unique personality and characteristics. I also got a deep understanding of the quality care PAWS provides for their animals. A big thanks to my mentor Catherine Doyle, for helping me throughout the year and being so essential to my senior project, as well as for inviting me out to California to see the elephants. Thank you PAWS for an unforgettable experience!"


The experience was just as fulfilling for Catherine. "Education has always been a very important part of PAWS' mission," she stated. "The work we do with elephants at PAWS promotes a deeper understanding of the complex effects of captivity on these animals, and it instills an appreciation for conserving elephants in the wild. I'm very pleased that Avanti benefited from her experience and that she will share what she learned with other students."


All photos of Samantha by Janice Clark


Samantha, A Dear Friend, Has Passed Away

by Dr. Jackie Gai, DVM


The PAWS family is saddened to report that Samantha the mountain lion has passed away at the age of 22 years.


Samantha was born in 1992 at Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari in Gentry, Arkansas. At that time, the park bred lions, tigers, mountain lions and other exotic cats, and incredibly, many of the cubs and kittens produced were sold as pets to park visitors. Little Samantha was taken from her mother before she was three weeks old and placed in the "petting area" of the park. A park visitor bought her at four weeks of age for $400. "She was starving and I bought her to get her out of the place," Samantha's purchaser said at the time.


Two months later her new owner contacted the Humane Society of the Ozarks for advice because Samantha was "getting out of hand." The family planned to have her declawed to calm her down (an operation that can create a lifetime of crippling pain), but after a family member became allergic to her they began having second thoughts about the suitability of a mountain lion as a pet. A cruelty investigator for the humane society persuaded the owner to surrender the young mountain lion for placement in a more suitable facility. Thankfully they agreed and Samantha was sent to PAWS.


Samantha: PAWS Mountain Lion
Samantha: PAWS Mountain Lion


When Samantha arrived at our Galt sanctuary in January of 1993, she weighed a mere 10 pounds and was in such poor condition that she was unable to walk. Suffering from metabolic bone disease, the result of being fed a completely inappropriate diet, she dragged her little body along the floor by her front legs, her hind legs dangling limply behind her. Despite everything Samantha had been through, she had a strong spirit and an incredible will to live. With a healthy diet and 'round the clock loving care from PAWS co-founders Pat Derby and Ed Stewart, "Sam" gradually regained the use of her hind legs and grew stronger each day.


Many predicted that Samantha's life would probably be shortened because of her poor health during early development. A wild mountain lion's life expectancy is 8 to 10 years, while captive mountain lions average 15 to 20 years, with a small number living into their early 20s. Samantha's eventual good health and longevity can be attributed to the excellent care that she received at PAWS, along with her indomitable spirit and joie de vivre.


Known for her cheery disposition, she would always eagerly respond to us with her unique "chirp" and her expressive voice. She would come to the fence, purring and rubbing her head against it. She especially loved Pat and Ed, and would talk, rub and purr loudly when they visited her. She even greeted me, her veterinarian, with a warm purr and enthusiastic chirp. Samantha aged gracefully and seemed timeless to us. It is hard to believe that she is gone.


In her late teens Samantha developed arthritis. To make her more comfortable she was moved out of her original habitat with its myriad of climbing structures, into a large, flat, grassy habitat. Here she had a gently sloping ramp leading into her den which keepers lovingly filled with a soft bed of hay each day. 


In late 2013, Sam was diagnosed with chronic renal failure, a common condition in older cats. She was given medications and supplements to help with mobility and analgesia, and to treat her kidney disease. Each day her keepers would carefully hide her medications in chunks of meat.   


During the early part of this month we noticed she was slowing down and was not her usual cheery self. On the morning of April 9, Samantha had two seizures. The heart-wrenching, but most compassionate decision was made to euthanize her that morning.


Sam passed gently and peacefully from this life surrounded by people who loved her. I know that I felt Pat's presence that morning - a calm and loving light that surrounded this special little creature, and I'd like to think that they are reunited - chirping and singing together.


Rest in peace sweet Samantha. You will always be in our hearts and we will miss you tremendously. 




African elephant Thika
The Fifth Estate Returns to PAWS


Canada's premier investigative news magazine program, The Fifth Estate, returned to PAWS' ARK 2000 captive wildlife sanctuary this month to shoot an episode for its special season finale, "After the Cameras Went Away."


The Fifth Estate's investigative team had accompanied elephants Iringa, Toka and Thika on their trip from the Toronto Zoo to PAWS last October, documenting every step of their journey. In this special follow-up segment - which features an interview with PAWS president Ed Stewart - The Fifth Estate journalist Bob McKeown reports on how the elephants have adapted since arriving in sunny California.


Click here to watch "After the Cameras Went Away." (Video may not be available in all areas.)



Conference Registration Begins May 19th


The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) presents the 2014 International Captive Wildlife Conference on Nov. 8-10, in Burbank, Calif. This is a premier global summit that focuses on the confinement and use of exotic and wild animals, especially those used in entertainment. Its aim is to educate, stimulate critical discussion and promote action to protect and improve the welfare of captive wildlife.  


PAWS conferences are highly anticipated events that attract people from around the world and feature exciting speakers who are leaders in their fields, including scientific research, ethics, law, animal care and welfare, and conservation.


PAWS has been presenting conferences since 1992, and this year's event is a special one: PAWS is celebrating its 30th year of rescue, sanctuary care, education and advocacy for captive exotic and performing animals. To celebrate this important milestone, we will be presenting a special anniversary gala on Saturday night. We hope you will join us for this exceptional weekend!


Why you should attend the PAWS 2014 International Captive Wildlife Conference: 
  • Learn about a range of important issues affecting captive wildlife, including elephants, big cats, marine mammals, and nonhuman primates. 
  • Hear from professionals who are on the cutting edge in their respective areas. 
  • Discover different perspectives on the issues, from science to ethics to animal law. 
  • Know the issues and learn how you can take action in your community to help captive and performing wild animals. 
  • Meet others who share your interest in captive wildlife and their protection. 
  • Only U.S.-based conference of its kind. 
  • Beautiful location in sunny Southern California.
  • Be a part of PAWS' special 30th anniversary event weekend! 

Online registration will begin May 19. A link will be provided on our calendar of events page, along with a list of featured speakers. Tickets for PAWS 30th Anniversary Gala will also go on sale on May 19.


Dr. Gai Speaks At UCD

PAWS veterinarian Dr. Jackie Gai (pictured above with bull elephant Nicholas) gave a presentation entitled "Welfare of Captive Wildlife: Past, Present, and Future" on March 29th at the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's 20th Annual Wildlife and Aquatic Animal Medicine Club Symposium. As an invited speaker, she discussed the roots of animal welfare in zoos, current welfare topics, and the important role that veterinarians can and should play in defining and ensuring animal welfare. The Symposium audience consisted of over 125 veterinarians, students and others involved in caring for captive wildlife.

PAWS Battles Elephant Rides in Los Angeles


A concerned PAWS supporter alerted us that the notorious elephant ride provider, Have Trunk Will Travel, would be giving rides to children in Los Angeles at La Feria de los Niņos, a free event sponsored by the Curacao Department Store. 

PAWS immediately called Curacao and sent a letter detailing our objections to the rides which were only one week away. Elephant welfare and human safety formed the basis of our objections. We even offered to help with ideas for replacing the elephant rides with another attraction that would be fun and educational for children attending the event. Included with our letter was a statement signed by prominent elephant experts and conservationists around the world who oppose elephant rides.


Unfortunately, Curacao did not respond, so PAWS joined other concerned citizens and animal protection organizations in protesting the event. We found that people were open to our message; many expressed concern for the welfare of the elephants.


All elephant handlers giving rides carry and use a bullhook - the spike-tipped weapon resembling a fireplace poker that is used to prod, hook and strike elephants and force them to obey commands. The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously last year to ban the use of the bullhook on elephants because it is inhumane. The ban, which PAWS strongly supported, goes into effect on January 1, 2017.


Thank you to everyone who contacted Curacao and event sponsor Univision to oppose the rides. With your help, we will end the use of elephants for rides!

Another Elephant Rides Update


According to our friends at the Center for Animal Protection and Education (CAPE), the Nevada County Fair in Grass Valley, Calif., will not be offering elephant rides this year!


PAWS worked with CAPE and other local organizations to oppose the rides at last year's Fair, including testifying at public meetings and attracting media attention to this inherently inhumane and unsafe practice. The elephant rides sparked controversy and a large demonstration at the Fair, attracting more than 100 peaceful protestors. Even though we didn't stop the rides last year, our hard work paid off. A great team effort ensured that elephant rides will not return to the Nevada County Fair.


If elephant rides are offered in your area, PAWS is available to help you stop them. We can provide guidance for your campaign, assistance and expert testimony. Please contact Catherine Doyle, PAWS' Director of Science, Research and Advocacy, at [email protected].

Good News For Animals


The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has suspended the import of sport-hunted African elephant trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe in 2014. The agency expressed concerns about the questionable management practices, lack of effective law enforcement and weak governance in these countries, which have led to a catastrophic decline of elephants. A USFWS press release stated: "Additional killing of elephants in these countries, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species." The agency will reevaluate the suspension for 2015, depending on proof that the situation for elephants has improved. 


Panama banned the entry of wild animals into the country for use in circuses, public shows, exhibitions, audience interaction, and entertainment. Other Latin American nations that have adopted similar restrictions include Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Colombia, Costa Rica and El Salvador.


Botswana to end canned hunting. Legislation is underway to end canned hunts in Botswana. The practice involves breeding and raising big cats and other animals in captivity, only to be hunted and shot point-blank within restricted areas. The country recently banned the export of wildlife and has also banned trophy hunting.



U.S. Marines are headed to Chad (Central Africa) to fight rampant elephant poaching. Troops will be training local forces to prevent poaching, investigate incidents and pursue criminals in a country that has seen its elephant population plummet. A recent report by Born Free USA links the ivory trade to organized crime, government corruption, militants and terrorism - making the ivory trade an international concern.


Belgium is the latest nation to destroy its stockpile of illegal ivory,
joining the U.S., France, China, Chad, Philippines and other countries that have taken a stand against wildlife trafficking and the destruction of elephants for the ivory trade. Nearly 100 African elephants are lost each day to poachers.

Rhode Island Residents:

Support Elephant Protection Legislation Today!


PAWS is supporting an important bill in Rhode Island, H7192, that would ban use of the bullhook and the unnecessary chaining of elephants in traveling shows. PAWS' Director of Science, Research and Advocacy, Catherine Doyle, testified before a House committee on the issue earlier this month. Now we need the help of Rhode Island residents to move this important legislation forward, making their state the first state in the nation with such a ban.


Elephants in circuses and traveling shows are trained and controlled through cruel practices that include use of the bullhook and chaining. Handlers use the bullhook, a steel-tipped rod similar to a fireplace poker, to prod, hook, jab and strike elephants, forcing them to comply with every command. The sole purpose of the bullhook is to dominate through fear and violence.


Chaining is another insidious form of control. Free movement is essential to elephants' health and welfare, but in circuses they are chained for at least 17 hours a day - and far longer when transported across the country in crowded train cars and semi-trailer trucks. This severe confinement results in abnormal repetitive swaying and rocking, painful foot disease and deadly arthritis.


How you can help


If you are a resident of Rhode Island, please send an email to state Representatives and ask them to support this important bill. You can use the sample message below, but it is important that you personalize it as much as possible to maximize effectiveness.


If you are not a resident, please share this alert with friends, family and colleagues who may live in Rhode Island. And please consider action that you can take in your own city or state to end the suffering of elephants and all wild animals used in circuses, such as writing a letter to the editor when the circus comes to town, or initiating an ordinance of your own.


Sample letter:


As a citizen who cares about the welfare of captive elephants, I urge you to support H7192, the bill that would prohibit the use of bullhooks and chains on elephants in traveling shows and circuses that visit our state.


The bullhook is a steel-tipped rod resembling a fireplace poker that is used to prod, hook and strike elephants, forcing them to comply with every command. Handlers rely on the bullhook to dominate and control elephants through the ever-present threat of pain.


Chaining is another form of inhumane control. Elephants are naturally active and walk tens of miles a day in the wild. In circuses they are virtually immobilized in chains for most of their lives. Lack of movement causes deadly foot and joint diseases and abnormal repetitive behaviors unseen in wild elephants.


Elephants in traveling shows are subject to inhumane practices, purely for the sake of "entertainment." Please put an end to this cruelty that has no place in our state by supporting H7192.





Contact (copy and paste this email address block into your email message):


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Help Us Reach 30,000 Facebook Likes!


PAWS is thrilled to report that we have surpassed 20,000 "likes" on our Facebook page! We're well on our way, but we need your help to reach the 30,000 mark during our 30th anniversary year.


If you haven't "liked" our Facebook page yet, you're missing the great photos and videos that we regularly post of our elephants, bears, tigers and other animals who have found refuge at PAWS - not to mention the latest news and action alerts.


If you have already "liked" our page, please share our latest post with all your Facebook friends and encourage them to "like" PAWS. This is a great way to spread the word about the life-saving work that we do, and our posts are sure to bring a smile to your Facebook friends.


With your help we can reach our goal of 30,000 "likes" - and beyond! Click on our Facebook link below. (You do not need to be a Facebook member to view our page. However, you must be registered in order to "like" us.)



Boo Boo and Winston are two of seven black bears
living in the Bob Barker Bear Habitat at ARK 2000.

Tickets For PAWS Fundraisers Now On Sale

Tickets for two of PAWS' annual fundraising events - the May 10 ARK 2000 Open House and our June 21 "Wines, Tigers & Beers" - are now on sale. Purchase tickets online, or call our office at (209) 745-2606, M-F, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. PST to charge by phone. Tickets for these events must be purchased in advance. There will be no ticket sales at the events. "Wines, Tigers & Beers" is an adults-only (21 and over) event. Visit our website Calender of Events page for more information.



A BIG Thank You!

April Amazon Wish List Donors


KBR Neighborhood, Marty Perimutter, Margery Bridstrup, Many Riggins, Pattie Stetson and 3 Anonymous Donors have all sent us pillowcases for making beds for Ferguson, PAWS' macaque. Maureen Forney: 1 tub of Flax Seed; 1 Dorfman Hat for keepers, 1 bottle of Renal Essentials, 1 box of Frosted Flakes.
Friederike Cook: 1 bottle of Milk Thistle. Debbie Casey and Lonnie Jones: 2 packages of 8 round router blades for Xactos. Anonymous Donor: 1 case of copy paper.
View wish list items that are needed,
but not listed on the Amazon list, here.

Other Donations: Special thanks to Ellen Hickey for donating 8 bales of alfalfa.
There are many ways you can help PAWS animals:
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 Amazon Wish List
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.

Estates/Planned Giving
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.

Donate Your Vehicle

Learn more 

Pat Derby: A Memorial Celebration
2-Disk DVD $30.00 + $5.95 shipping and handling

A celebration of PAWS co-founder Pat Derby's life and legacy was held at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento, California, on March 29, 2013. Pat passed away on February 15, 2013. The entire three-hour program is now available on DVD with the proceeds from its sale benefiting PAWS' animals. This two-disc set includes heartfelt tributes from Pat's partner and PAWS' co-founder Ed Stewart, as well as Bob Barker, Kim Basinger, Lily Tomlin, Tony LaRussa, Kevin Nealon, Congressman Sam Farr, and many more.

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PO Box 849
Galt, CA 95632
(209) 745-2606