Rescue. Advocacy. Sanctuary. For Life.

Since 1984

Newsletter | February 2023

Rescued bear Ben in his habitat at ARK 2000.

2023 Is the Year of the Bear!

At PAWS, we care for three very special bears every day: Boo Boo, Ben, and Mack. Bears get far less notice than exotic animals like elephants and tigers – although once you learn more about bears, they’re just as fascinating. To help remedy this situation, we’ve decided to call more attention to these overlooked animals by making 2023 “The Year of the Bear”!

Bears are highly intelligent, strong, and wide-ranging animals, with home ranges of 50 square miles or more. They are constantly on the move, active for about 18 hours a day while foraging, exploring, and caring for their young.

At PAWS, we mainly care for black bears:

Boo Boo (pictured) was a “pet” whose owners put a collar around his neck and chained him up in the backyard. But they never loosened the collar which tightened as he grew, nearly strangling him. The collar dug so deeply into Boo Boo’s neck it had to be surgically removed.


Ben was confined at a roadside attraction in a barren 12x22 foot cage made of concrete and chain link. He was fed dry dog food dumped onto the same floor where he urinated and defecated. Ben had nothing to do but pace back and forth.


Mack (below) was a wild bear orphaned at a young age. When he began begging for food from people, state officials captured him. Part of Mack’s right rear leg is missing but that doesn’t slow down this energetic bear.

Today, these bears are safe and cared for at our ARK 2000 sanctuary, where they have spacious habitats and opportunities to engage in natural behaviors such as foraging, exploration, and digging into logs for tasty grubs and termites. Other captive bears are not so fortunate.


While much attention is given to the plight of captive elephants and big cats, bears also are abused and exploited. About 1,000 bears in the U.S. are used for entertainment or confined in roadside zoos.


Bears can be found in roadside attractions, including dismal zoos and archaic “bear pits.” They are exploited for profit in cruel cub petting operations where people pay to hold and take photos with baby bears who were torn from their mothers shortly after birth.

Bears in traveling shows are brutally trained and forced to perform tricks, spending long hours in cramped cages while on the road. Bears bought as “pets” will spend their lives in miserable backyard cages – frustrated, neglected, and deprived of all that is natural to them.


Visit our Take the Pledge for Bears page where you’ll find information about bears in captivity and how you can help them. You can also sign our petition to stop bear cub petting operations that exploit baby bears for profit.

Click here to "Take the Pledge for Bears"

PAWS Remembers

Our Co-founder, the Late Pat Derby


It’s hard to believe, but it has been 10 years since the passing of PAWS’ co-founder, the late Pat Derby. Every day we think about this amazing woman and her trailblazing work for captive wild animals.


Though small in stature, you couldn’t miss Pat’s flaming red hair and the fire in her eyes. She was a former Hollywood animal trainer who first championed the cause of performing wild animals in her tell-all book, The Lady and Her Tiger, published in 1976.


The exposé revealed a hidden world that wild animal trainers never wanted the public to know about. The book may have marked the end of her Hollywood career, but it launched Pat into her heart’s work of rescue, sanctuary, and advocacy on behalf of wild animals exploited for entertainment.


Together with her partner, PAWS Co-founder, President and CEO Ed Stewart, Pat accomplished much for captive wildlife.


She fought especially hard against the use of wild animals in circuses, with Mother Jones magazine calling her the circus’ “No. 1 antagonist.” Ed credits Pat with helping to turn the tide against circuses, leading to the eventual closure of the largest circus in the United States.


Pat did it all: She spoke before Congress in Washington, DC, debated circus industry representatives in the media, and co-sponsored state and federal legislation to protect captive wildlife.


After her passing, she was recognized by news media worldwide and she was honored by local and state governments and in Washington, DC, where Pat worked so hard to bring about change for captive elephants and other wild animals.


Perhaps her greatest legacy is the 2,300-acre ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas, California, which Pat conceived and built with Ed. Today, elephants, bears, big cats, monkeys, and emus rescued or retired from circuses, zoos, and the exotic “pet” trade roam spacious natural habitats. Our state-of-the-art veterinary facility, the Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center, is named in her honor.

Although Pat loved and cared for many different animals, elephants were closest to her heart. She wrote in The Lady and Her Tiger: “I was born in love with all elephants. . . not because of any of their individual qualities – wisdom, kindness, power, grace, patience, loyalty – but for what they are altogether, for their entire elephantness.” Later, she and Ed nursed a sickly calf named “71” (pictured) back to health, becoming the first sanctuary to care for elephants.


Pat may have physically left us on February 15, 2013, after a battle with cancer, but she is still very much with us in our thoughts and in our work. Her inspiring legacy lives on through ARK 2000 and the dedication of our sanctuary staff who continue the work of saving and caring for the remarkable animals who were so very close to Pat’s heart.


Pat, we love and miss you. You always will be in our hearts.

Happy Birthday, Lulu!

This month, PAWS held a special celebration for African elephant Lulu’s 57th birthday. She is the oldest African elephant in North America. The event was held at the ARK 2000 sanctuary and attended by a small group of local volunteers, board members, and PAWS staff.

Of course, there was cake! Lulu was presented with a healthy, specially made cake (pictured) containing bran and flour, apple sauce, fruit, vegetables, and a drizzle of molasses. Not to be left out, Lulu’s companion, Toka, also received a cake.


Lulu arrived at PAWS in March 2005 from the San Francisco Zoo. She originally had come from Africa as a two-year-old calf. When Lulu first came to PAWS, her behavior reflected the trauma she had experienced in her life, from capture in the wild to living alongside an overly dominant elephant at the zoo. Whenever she saw the sanctuary's other elephants, she would drop to the ground and crawl on her knees.


PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, worked intensively with Lulu. She helped build her confidence and made her feel safe. Since that time, Lulu has socialized with many other elephants and today spends her days in the company of Toka.

Lulu's age is exceptional for an African elephant in captivity. The stresses and unnatural conditions of their confinement mean that elephants tend to live much shorter lives in captivity than in the wild.

Above: Lulu enjoys her birthday cake that was baked by PAWS volunteer Priscilla Chalmers.

PAWS board members Dr. Kristina Wiley (left) and Debbie Morrow (right) with PAWS President and CEO Ed Stewart

During the birthday event, PAWS presented a $20,000 check to the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE), in Lulu’s name. The Trust’s work includes the longest-running study of wild elephants ever undertaken, documenting the lives of more than 3,500 elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. PAWS’ donation will support ATE’s important work to ensure the long-term conservation of African elephants.


All of us at PAWS are honored to care for this very special elephant, who has found a more natural and truly peaceful life at the ARK 2000 sanctuary. We wish Lulu the happiest of birthdays.


February Amazon Wish List Donors:

Robert Gelman and Barbara Irvine Cotner: one bottle of AminAvast, 60#. Michelle Plotnik: one Missing Link Skin and Coat. Caron Hill: one bottle of AminAvast, 60#. Kathryn Arnold: one bottle of AminAvast, 60#. Robin and Jim Piane: two 5 lb. pails of Biotin 100 Powder. Connie Cassinetto: one bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat; one bottle of AminAvast, 60#. Jacek Kropinski: one 2.5 lb. Biotin Powder. Lynn Bruser: one 10 lb. pail of Equithrive Classic Joint Pellets. Molly Runcie: one 5 lb. pail of Biotin 100 Powder; one 8 lb. pail of Simply Flax. Kathleen Huls: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Carole Bognar: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Nancy Gordon: two 8 lb. pails of Simply Flax. Theresa Robinson: one bottle of AminAvast, 60#; one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#; one bottle of EicosaDerm, 32 oz. Marcia Palka: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Ellie Bryant: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Elaine Hadad: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#; one 8 lb. pail of Simply Flax. Joleene M. Ladyman: one bottle of AminAvast, 60#. Carol Hill: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Anonymous Donors: two 8 lb. pails of Simply Flax; one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#.

We have chosen specific items that are needed at the sanctuary, which you can purchase directly from Amazon. We have an ongoing need for many of the products listed. Click here to review the items and donate.

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P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632

(209) 745-2606


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PAWS provides lifetime care to the tigers, bears, elephants, and other animals who call our sanctuaries home. Your kind support provides expert daily care, necessary veterinary treatments, and specialized nutritional support, all tailored to the individual needs of each animal. Your gifts make this excellent care possible.

There are many ways you can help PAWS animals:

Donate. Although we work closely with regulatory agencies on animal rescues, PAWS receives no government funding and must rely on your donations to continue our work. When you make a contribution for the wild animals at PAWS, it is unlike any other. How many people can say they’ve gifted elephants with spacious rolling hills and a more natural life, or made a present of a lush, tree-filled habitat for a tiger? Or given a bear a new chance at life? And you ensure we are prepared for the next wild animal in dire need of rescue. Three ways to give and every donation matters.


PAWS is proud of its 4-star rating with Charity Navigator - the highest rating possible. We are part of an elite group of charities with an "exceptional" designation (at least four consecutive years of 4-star ratings), meaning that your gift will have the greatest impact possible. CharityWatch gives PAWS an "A" rating.

Give to one of PAWS' ongoing MightyCause campaigns: Our "Dollars for Dirt" or "Give BIG for PAWS' Elephants" fundraisers for the elephants, or our "Help Captive Tigers" fundraiser to benefit the rescued tigers living at our ARK 2000 sanctuary.


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! Learn more


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. Learn more


Estates/Planned Giving. You can help us make sure captive wildlife in need of shelter will always have a PAWS sanctuary to call home! Learn more


Corporate Donations and Matching Fund Programs. Learn more about what is needed.

Purchase PAWS apparel and merchandise. Clothing for adults, kids, toddlers and infants, as well as other fun merchandise like notecards and coffee mugs - available from our CafePress online gift shop.

PAWS Amazon Wish List. We have chosen specific items that are needed at the sanctuary, which you can purchase directly from Amazon. Many items are ongoing. The list is always current! View here.


EBAY Giving Works. Visit PAWS eBay page to view our current listings and to bid. List your items on EBAY and choose PAWS as your charity. Donate a percentage of each sale to the animals. Visit our EBAY charity listing page here. Start selling or buying!

Shop online through IGive and raise money for PAWS! Up to 26% of your purchase - at more than 1,600 retailers - can be donated to PAWS. Learn more

Donate Your Vehicle To PAWS. Learn more