Winter Greetings From PAWS

Fall 2014 was unusually warm and dry, but finally the rain came and now the rolling hills at ARK 2000 are graced with new, gloriously green grasses. The elephants didn't miss a beat and have been grazing to their hearts' content on this lush delicacy. Each elephant has his or her own special technique for eating grass. African elephant Thika shows extra finesse - she picks a bundle of grass, then, while holding the bouquet with the tip of her trunk, expertly taps it on the ground, and using one foot bumps off any clods of dirt that stick to the roots before eating it. Soft new grass makes a luxurious bed, and on sunny days the habitats are often dotted with contentedly dozing elephants.


As the daylight begins to fade, and twilight falls, African lions Sheba, Bambek, and Camba issue deep, throaty roars as if to bid the world good night. The winter night sky at ARK 2000 is a spectacular sight, with a rich tapestry of bright stars. While most of the tigers are asleep in their dens, the night keepers often report seeing at least one intrepid explorer wide awake, patrolling his or her habitat by moonlight.


At our Galt sanctuary, the smaller animals are frisky in the cool weather. Robert the bobcat climbs high onto his rooftop perch and surveys the goings-on as keepers rake fallen leaves


in the sanctuary. Paka the serval makes her rounds after breakfast, finally settling in a bed of straw in a sunny spot. Jackie coyote's winter coat is thick and lustrous, and her ears prick up at the slightest sound. Rufus (right) the lynx relishes the cool, crisp mornings and roams the habitat while companion lynx Misha prefers to sleep late in her cozy hay-bedded den.


The animals at the Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge (Stalker the emu is pictured above) seem invigorated by this time of year, too. The Scimitar-horned oryx herd have plenty of fresh, tender grass, and the small marsh in their habitat is coming back to life with the


influx of rainfall. After grazing all morning, they lounge together in the sun. The emu, always active and curious, hunt for bugs and bathe in occasional rain showers.


At PAWS, we humans delight in the changing seasons and their effect upon the natural landscape. Winter sunlight has an almost magical quality, casting long shadows while making the warm colors of the oak trees glow. We also enjoy watching the animals respond to nature's bounty. Bears, when not napping in their cozy dens, stroll through their habitats, noses to the ground, in search of acorns.


Elephants joyfully play in mud wallows, and African elephant Iringa seemed especially delighted to wriggle and dig in the mud created after a recent rain. Asian bull elephant Prince often takes a swim in his pool when it rains, and he uses his long tusks to dig into the soft mud and earth.


January is a time of renewal and inspiration, a time to set goals and build momentum to take on the exciting challenges and projects that lie ahead. We are profoundly grateful to you, our supporters, who make possible everything that we do. Your commitment of support, large or small, fuels our ability to provide excellent care for the animals that call PAWS home, and also supports our critically important advocacy work on behalf of captive wild animals everywhere.


African Elephants: Eating Tree Branches





California Introduces Bill to

Ban Sales of Ivory and Rhino Horn


PAWS is starting off the year actively working to ensure passage of an important bill introduced this month by California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Senator Ricardo Lara that would ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn.


Elephants and rhinos are being poached at alarming rates - an average of 96 elephants are killed each day in Africa, and more than 1,000 rhinos out of a remaining 29,000 in the wild were poached in South Africa alone in 2014. Unless action is taken now, these iconic species are headed toward extinction.


California has prohibited the sale of ivory since 1977, but a loophole rendered the law unenforceable. AB 96 would close that loophole and allow the Department of Fish and Wildlife to enforce the law, with violators subject to criminal and civil penalties. Read the bill here.


California follows New York as the second largest market for the sale of illegal ivory in the United States. Illegal sales of ivory are estimated to have doubled in California over the past eight years. New York State and New Jersey recently enacted strong prohibitions on the sale of ivory and rhino horns, and the federal government has proposed stronger ivory trade and import regulations. Now it's time for California to step up and protect elephants and rhinos.


How Californians can help


If you live in California, please call your Assembly member and urge him or her to co-author AB 96. Follow up your call with an email. Click here to locate your Assembly member. Follow the link to find your Assembly member's contact information, including phone number. You can send a message via an on-line contact form.


Calls and emails should come from constituents only (e.g., people who live and vote in their districts).


The following Assembly members have already co-sponsored the bill: Bloom, Bonta, Hancock, Leno, Levine, Maienschein, McCarty, Pan, Rendon and Williams. If your assembly member appears on this list, you can simply thank her or him for this important support.


Sample phone message:


I am requesting that Assemblymember (name) become a co-author for AB 96, the bill that would end the sale of ivory and rhino horn in our state. We need to decrease the demand in order to stop the decimation of these animals, who are headed toward extinction.


Sample email message:


As a supporter of the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), which cares for 10 rescued and relocated elephants in San Andreas, California, I was shocked to learn that our state is the second largest market in the U.S. for illegal ivory and rhino horn sales - and that illegal ivory sales have doubled in the last eight years.


I respectfully urge you to co-author AB 96, the bill that would end the sale of ivory and rhino horn in California. AB 96 will close the loophole in existing state law that prevents its enforcement.


An average of 96 elephants are killed each day in Africa, and more than 1,000 rhinos out of a remaining 29,000 in the wild were poached in South Africa alone in 2014. The illegal wildlife trade has been linked to organized crime and terrorist groups.


It's time that California takes action to end this cruel trade by decreasing the demand that drives it. Unless action is taken now, these iconic species are headed toward extinction. Please co-author AB 96 and help ensure that elephants and rhinos share this planet with us for generations to come.


May I please hear a response from you on this important legislation?




For more information on AB 96, email PAWS' director of science, research and advocacy, Catherine Doyle, at [email protected].


Photo courtesy of Amboseli Trust for Elephants


More Legislation to Protect Elephants


Washington State Ivory Ban


If you live in the state of Washington, please support legislation introduced in the House, House Bill 1131, and Senate, Senate Bill 5241, that would stop the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horns, with some exceptions. Please call and email your state Representative and Senator and urge him or her to support this important legislation. Click here to locate your Representative and Senator.


Calls and emails should come from constituents only (e.g., people who live and vote in Washington State). You can use the messaging from the article above when contacting your state legislators.



New York State Bullhook Ban


New York State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) is sponsoring an elephant protection law aimed at ending the use of bullhooks on elephants in circuses, S00056. The bill would ban the use of whips, electric shock devices, bull hooks, chaining, or kicking, hitting or striking an elephant or any act that could cause pain. Violation would be a Class E Felony subject to jailing. Hoylman told the New York Post: "It's important to send a message that New York is not going to tolerate mistreatment of this magnificent creature."


The bullhook is a steel-tipped weapon resembling a fireplace poker, with a sharp tip and hook at the end. It is used to prod, hook and strike elephants in order to dominate and control them, and to make them perform on cue. For the bullhook to be effective, an elephant must be made to fear the device and the threat of the pain it delivers. This association is regularly reinforced throughout an elephant's lifetime, making use of the bullhook a serious welfare issue.


If you live in New York, please support this important elephant protection measure. Contact your state senator by phone and email, urging support for S00056. Click here to locate your state senator.


Calls and emails should come from constituents only (e.g., people who live and vote in New York).


You can read the Hoylman bill here.


If you live outside California and Washington and want to help protect elephants and rhinos, contact your state representatives and urge them to introduce a ban on the sale of ivory and rhino horn.


If you want to introduce an ordinance to protect elephants and performing wild animals in your area, please contact Catherine Doyle at [email protected].




Save the Date:

Portland Fundraiser to Benefit Elephant Prince


Portland Animal Welfare Advocates is holding a special fundraiser, "Valentinze Bake Sale and Social," on February 7th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Madison House in Portland, Oregon (4620 SE Madison Street). The event features vegan goodies, raffle prizes, and crafts for kids. Proceeds will in part help support the care of Prince at PAWS.


Prince was born at the Oregon Zoo before being sent to the circus as part of a breeding contract. Chang Dee, as he was originally named, was separated from his mother at only one-and-a-half years old, an age at which elephant calves are still nursing and entirely dependent on their mothers. After spending years in the circus, Prince came to PAWS, where he enjoys a spacious enclosure and playing in his pools.


If you live in the Portland area, be sure to stop by this special fundraiser and help Prince and PAWS!




You're Never Too Young to Help Animals


Six-year-old Ben and his five-year-old sister Abby wanted to have a lemonade stand and use the money for good. Ben's favorite animal is the elephant, so they decided to raise funds to adopt Prince, one of the bull elephants at PAWS. The kids picked him because they claimed that "he looks like THE king of the elephants!" Thus was born the "Saving Ears: Bringing Hope to Elephants" project for which the children created posters, baked goods, and sold their toys to raise the money. They read facts about elephants and spoke to people involved in protecting elephants, receiving more of an education than they had ever expected. At the end of the event, they raised enough money to adopt two elephants, Prince (chosen by Ben) and Mara (chosen by Abby).


Ben and Abby's mother, Christie, wrote to PAWS: "The excitement of each being able to adopt an elephant was nothing compared to them actually receiving the Adoption Certificate, picture and story behind each elephant. The envelope of joy that arrived addressed to each of them is shared with everyone who comes over and is awaiting share day at school to be shared with their friends."


She continued: "The ability of adopting two elephants was made possible by all of our supporters and PAWS for having a program that brings home the reality for youth that they are a part of something bigger. Thank you everyone for making this a reality and helping our kids realize their ideas and dedication can help make a difference in our environment."


If you would like to adopt* an elephant, or any of the wild animals cared for at the PAWS sanctuaries, click here for more information. You can adopt a PAWS animal for yourself, a family member, co-worker or friend (remember that Valentine's Day is just around the corner!). Your gift adoption helps provide our animals with expert care, nutritious food, and an enriching natural habitat in which to live.


*Adoption is symbolic only. No animal will be sent!



Update on Zimbabwe Elephant Calf Export


In December, we wrote about the impending export by Zimbabwe of wild-caught elephant calves and other wildlife. At the time, the number of elephants was around 30. We are very sorry to report that Zimbabwe has increased the number of elephant calves to be exported to more than 60! Destinations for these elephant calves is unclear, though news reports suggest they may be sent to zoos in the United Arab Emirates, China, and even France.


PAWS has already collaborated with some of the world's leading elephant experts, conservationists and animal care, policy and welfare professionals in sending a letter to the government of Zimbabwe opposing the export. Click here to read the letter.


History shows that elephants previously exported by Zimbabwe to zoos in other countries have ended in disaster. Of the four elephant calves exported to Chinese zoos in 2012, only one remains alive today - and he is experiencing intense physical and mental distress as a result of isolation and terrible zoo conditions. In the early 1980s, 63 calves were exported from Zimbabwe to the U.S. They were eventually sent to zoos and circuses and almost all of them died prematurely. One of the few surviving elephants, 32-year-old Nosey, lives a miserable existence without the company of other elephants, crippled and forced to perform in a circus.


The disruption of vital social bonds and the life-­long incarceration of the elephant calves in zoos, safari parks and circuses is sure to cause enormous suffering to them - as well as to the families from which they have been taken. In captivity, they will be condemned to suffer a host of confinement-related conditions and a shortened life.


An enormous international outcry stopped the export of elephant calves from Zimbabwe to North Korea in 2010, and stopped Zimbabwe from exporting more elephant calves to China in 2012. PAWS was involved in efforts to stop each of those exports.


It is more important than ever that you take action to stop the travesty of this elephant exportation from Zimbabwe.


Please send a polite message to the Zimbabwean ambassador to your country asking that the export be cancelled and that Zimbabwe ban the practice of capturing live elephants and other wildlife for captive use. Urge the ambassador to ensure that the calves are released back into the wild after a carefully managed process of rehabilitation. You should ask that copies of your message be forwarded to government officials in Zimbabwe, including President Robert Mugabe; Mr. Saviour Kasukuwere, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources; Mr. Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism; and Mr. Edson Chidziya, Director General of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.


Sample message:


I am shocked at the news of Zimbabwe's capture and imminent export of more than 60 baby elephants and other wildlife for display in foreign zoos. This practice is outdated and inhumane, and I strongly urge you to stop the export and begin the process of rehabilitating the animals for release back into the wild.


History shows that elephant calves previously exported by Zimbabwe to foreign zoos have ended in disaster, with the elephants suffering and dying prematurely. This should come as no surprise, as elephants are highly social animals who are traumatized when removed from their families - and their families suffer terribly as well.


I urge you to show the world that Zimbabwe is a progressive country that cares about its wildlife heritage. Surely, the captured elephant calves and other wild animals have far more economic value to your country in terms of long-term wildlife tourism than does any sale of these animals to foreign zoos.


Please stop this export and end the practice of capturing and exporting elephants and other wildlife for display in foreign countries.





Contact information:


His Excellency Ammon M. Mutembwa

Ambassador of Zimbabwe, Washington, DC

[email protected]


His Excellency G.M. Machinga

Ambassador of Zimbabwe, UK

[email protected]


For information on ambassadors not shown here, you will need to locate that information via a Google search.



Good News For Animals


Mayor Alvaro Arzu of Guatemala City, Guatemala, announced a ban on performing animals in the city. He stated, "[Circus animals] are subjected to a brutal mistreatment, and we don't want to participate in this type of behavior." The decision followed a series of complaints and fines levied against a local circus accused of mistreating its animals. PAWS, and especially one of our long-time elephant caregivers, Mervin, who is of Guatemalan descent, give special kudos to Mayor Arzu for this progressive action.


The Times of India is reporting that the population of wild tigers has increased in India from an estimated 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014, an increase of 30%. India has 70% of the world's wild tiger population. While the news is encouraging, tiger populations remain small and fragmented, so the endangered big cats are in need of ongoing protection.

A BIG Thank You!

January Amazon Wish List Donors 


Victoria Hong: one 40-lb. box of oranges. Patricia Connelly: two bags of dry cat food for our rescued feral and office cats. Carin Orange: one 40-lb. box of oranges. Dawn Brooks: four plastic tubs for the elephant barns. Rael Orao: 10 pounds of peanuts. Kelly Marie Flynn: one bottle of Cosequin DS. Pamela Mattson: one bottle of RenAvast, one set of Motorola walkie-talkies. Sara Isett: 10 pounds of peanuts. Lori Swenson: one folding pruning saw. Linda Burkett: four bottles of RenAvast. Kelly Fitzgerald: 50-lb. case of popcorn. Marisa Landsberg: one bottle Emcelle Tocopherol (liquid vitamin E). Kelly Fitzgerald: one bottle RenAvast. Rochelle Palmer: 40-lb. box of oranges. Shelley N. Sellers: one spool of trimmer line. Tina Moore: one 40-lb. box of oranges. Patricia Connelly: two, 30-lb. bags of Blue Buffalo dry dog food, three bags Natural Balance dry cat food. Anonymous: one bag of dry cat food, one case of bleach, one rake.  


View wish list items that are needed,
but not listed on the Amazon list, here.
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

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Galt, CA 95632
(209) 745-2606