Rescue. Advocacy. Sanctuary. For Life.
Since 1984

April 2022 | Newsletter
Asian elephant Gypsy in her habitat at ARK 2000.
Nicholas and Gypsy: 15 Years at PAWS!
PAWS is celebrating a big anniversary for two of our Asian elephants, Gypsy and Nicholas. They have been a part of the PAWS family for 15 years!
Nicholas (left) and Gypsy were the last two elephants out of a group of 16 Asian elephants being relinquished by their owner, the Hawthorn Corporation, as part of a legal agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The company had trained and leased elephants and tigers to circuses. At the time, PAWS was the only sanctuary to take bull elephants. We were the last hope for Nicholas and Gypsy, who had been housed together. We knew that these elephants deserved to have the best lives possible, after all they had been through.
Gypsy, age 55, was stolen from her family in the wild when she was just a calf. The next 40 years of her life were spent traveling and performing in circuses; she was traded between at least a half dozen shows. Circus life is grueling, with months of travel over thousands of miles in filthy trucks. Elephants spend most of their lives on chains, and they are dominated by handlers wielding the bullhook – a weapon resembling a fireplace poker that is used to train and control elephants through fear and painful punishment.
Nicholas, now 29, was born at the Hawthorn Corporation and immediately trained for the circus. Early photos show him performing unnatural tricks when he was a calf, including riding a tricycle and balancing on a wooden beam. By age five, Nicholas was no longer used in shows. Male elephants quickly grow large and strong, and they are considered to be far less controllable than females. In circuses, male elephants are fated to be “warehoused”, often on chains, and largely ignored for the rest of their lives.

Upon their arrival at PAWS in 2007, these elephants finally had the chance to experience a more natural life – and to begin to heal. Nicholas went from being fearful and defensive to trusting his caregivers and willingly engaging in training sessions for food rewards. Gypsy’s slightly mischievous personality emerged.
Today, Nicholas and Gypsy wander large, natural habitats set amid the sanctuary’s rolling hills. They can forage on fresh vegetation, take a swim in a lake or pool, or indulge in a dust bath – it’s completely their choice.
Please join us in celebrating the new lives that Gypsy and Nicholas have found at PAWS!
Big Day of Giving is Right Around the Corner
Act Now and You Can
Double Your Gift to PAWS!
Donations Will be Matched up to $25,979!
We need your help to raise $75,000 (or more!) in 24 hours to feed and care for the elephants, tigers, bears, and other wild animals at PAWS' three sanctuaries. Rescued or retired from circuses, zoos, and the exotic "pet" trade, today these animals roam spacious natural habitats where they can just be wild animals again.
The Big Day of Giving starts at midnight on Thursday, May 5, and runs for 24 hours. The event helps Sacramento-area non-profits, but you can give no matter where you live – and you can make a contribution right now by clicking on the donate button below!
Double Your Donation!
Thanks to matching gifts from generous friends of PAWS, online donations made on the Big Day of Giving website will be doubled up to $25,979!
Make your Big Day of Giving gift TODAY.
Minimum donation is $15; all major credit cards accepted. Early donations will be added to the leaderboard on the Big Day of Giving website ( on May 5.
Please encourage friends, family and colleagues to donate, and share this event widely on social media.
PAWS thanks these special friends for their matching gifts: Christopher and Vanessa Aycock ($4,229); Tigers in America ($2,500); Dr. Deb Hoffman, M.D. ($10,000); Laura Dowling and Doug Davis ($2,000); Margo Duckett, Colonel, USAF NC (ret) ($5,000); Kevin and Susan McCourt ($1,000); and two special donors who wish to remain anonymous ($1,250).
PAWS' veterinarian, Dr. Gai (left), administers a vaccine injection to tiger Claire, while Tiger Supervisor Renae Smith (right) distracts her with food treats. Claire is showing her affection by rubbing her head and body against the fence.
How Do You Vaccinate a Tiger?
by Jackie Gai, DVM
PAWS Director of Veterinary Services
As a veterinarian who works with wild animals, some of the most common questions I'm asked by people have to do with vaccinating the big cats at PAWS. For example: Do we vaccinate them? What diseases do we vaccinate them against? And finally, how do we administer the vaccines?
At PAWS, we are proud of our comprehensive veterinary program that provides excellent, state-of-the-art medical care tailored to each individual animal's unique needs. One important component of this program focuses on preventative care, including vaccination to protect animals against diseases to which they may be vulnerable. Similar to domestic cats, core vaccines for big cats protect against rabies, distemper, feline calicivirus, and feline viral rhinotracheitis. 
Vaccines are administered by one of our veterinarians with the help of PAWS' animal caregivers. Our veterinarians visit all of our sanctuary residents on a regular basis, so the animals recognize us and are comfortable around us. Tigers are naturally curious and most of them will readily approach a habitat fence line to greet us. (We never share the same space with our big cats and do not have direct contact with them.) We start by positioning a tiger's caregiver outside the fence to distract the tiger from the front. Examples of the distractions we might use include a spritz of perfume, a sprinkling of a spice such as cinnamon, or a crinkly paper bag. We wait until the tiger rubs his or her side against the fence and then the veterinarian quickly injects the vaccine through the fence into a rear leg. Sometimes the distraction is so good, and the tiger so calm, they don't react to the injection at all!
All of our tigers were recently vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. The vaccine is not the same one that is given to humans. It was developed by Zoetis specifically for animal use.
Tigers are very susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and since the start of the pandemic there have been numerous reports of captive big cats in facilities around the world getting sick and even dying because of this potentially deadly virus. At PAWS we maintain strict biosecurity protocols to protect the animals who depend on us, including wearing masks, gloves, keeping a safe distance, and vaccination. We are happy to report that all of PAWS' tigers are doing well since completing their vaccination series, and no adverse effects were seen.
At PAWS, our number one priority is the health and welfare of all the wild animals living at our three sanctuaries. It is thanks to your kind support that we are able to give them the very best care.
After months of rehabilitation at the Ramona Wildlife Center, three orphaned black bear cubs were returned to the wilds of California's Mariposa County.
Three Bear Cubs Have Returned to the Wild!
In PAWS' September 2021 newsletter we shared with you the story of three orphaned female black bear cubs whose mother had been killed in Mariposa County, California. Too young to care for themselves, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) called on PAWS to provide short-term care for the tiny cubs until they could be transferred to the San Diego Humane Society's Ramona Wildlife Center, one of a handful of licensed bear rehabilitation centers in our state.
We are thrilled to share the news that the cubs have now been returned to the wild where they belong. In a press release issued by the San Diego Humane Society, it was reported that CDFW biologists released the three bear cubs on April 14, into an area not far from where there were originally picked up. Before their release, the cubs were fitted with radio collars so they can be traced by CDFW.
It was an honor to play a small role in the successful rehabilitation of these special bears. We're grateful to Project Wildlife, a branch of San Diego Humane Society, for their advice on how to care for the cubs while they were in our care, and for their expertise in knowing how to keep them wild enough for release.
PAWS Bids Farewell to Camba, the African Lioness
PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, called them "The Pride of San Andreas." Arriving at our ARK 2000 sanctuary in May of 2010, Camba (pictured), Simba, Bambek, and Daktari were four adult African lions rescued from a circus in Bolivia by Animal Defenders International. Actress Jorja Fox, from the TV crime show “CSI”, was the spokesperson for the rescue, and Emmy Award-winning game show host Bob Barker helped with rescue costs. PAWS gave the lions a lifetime home.
Lioness Camba and the three male lions had spent their entire lives on the road with the circus. The only time they left their cramped, dirty cages was during training sessions or while performing. When these formerly abused lions first stepped into their habitats, it was likely the first time they had felt grass under their paws. They cautiously sniffed the soft grass and earth, then gradually settled into their new life, with the freedom to choose how they spent their days in sanctuary. The lions were treated with only love and respect. 
Camba enjoyed the company of her three male companions who lived next door, often playfully chasing them along their shared fence line, or affectionately rubbing her face and side against them. Too soon, we mourned the deaths of Daktari in 2012, Simba in 2014, and Bambek in 2015 – all from a very aggressive and untreatable cancer. Although it is heartbreaking to lose such magnificent animals to a devastating disease, it is uplifting to know they enjoyed a good life with us after their former suffering. PAWS’ staff excels in caring for elderly, abused, and special-needs animals, providing a peaceful, natural setting, healthy food, and expert care.
After the passing of her male companions, we built Camba a new, more private habitat situated atop a hill where she could observe nature and sanctuary activities. Like most lions, Camba enjoyed napping in the soft grass. She had favorite sunny areas, as well as oak tree-shaded places to lounge and rest. At times she would drape her body across a big log and fall asleep. In between naps she was playful and full of energy. A PAWS donor gifted Camba a large Boomer ball that she loved to chase down the hill, and she often carried a log into her den at night. Whenever she heard staff approaching for a visit, Camba would gleefully bound into her feeding area, forcefully flop down onto the ground, and roll around on her back while pawing the air playfully with her front paws. None of us will ever forget this unique greeting which always made us smile. Every day at dusk, Camba would call out with a series of deep roars which (we are told) could be heard for miles around the sanctuary.

Camba was in surprisingly good health for most of her life at PAWS, requiring only kidney and joint supplements to support her health as she grew older. As with many animals who come to PAWS, her exact age was not known. She was estimated to be about five when she arrived.

In May 2021, staff noticed that both of Camba's pupils were dilated even in bright sunlight. PAWS’ veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Gai, requested the help of board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Kathy Good from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Oral medications were prescribed, as were topical eye drops that were expertly and creatively applied twice daily by Camba's primary caregiver Renae. When neither of these helped, a thorough ophthalmic examination under general anesthesia was performed with assistance from UC Davis specialists led by Dr. Good. Multiple abnormalities were discovered inside Camba's eyes, and a much deeper neurologic condition involving her optic nerves and brain were suspected.

Camba received excellent care for her ocular disease, including medications hidden in her favorite foods, as well as eye medication that Renae and her staff applied safely using a special device that delivers the medication in a fine mist. Camba's appetite remained excellent, and her playful, happy spirit was intact. But her vision gradually declined to near blindness. In late March, Camba began experiencing muscle tremors and weakness, signs indicating that her neurologic condition was rapidly worsening.

As we care for the animals at PAWS, we are all guided by doing what is best for each individual, to prevent and relieve discomfort, and to preserve dignity and a good quality of life. When it became clear that Camba's condition was declining and our therapies were no longer helping, the difficult but most caring decision was made to perform euthanasia to prevent suffering.

Camba passed from this life surrounded by many who loved and admired her, including her long-time veterinarians Dr. Gai and Dr. Glavis, her devoted caregiver and friend Renae Smith, PAWS President Ed Stewart, ARK 2000 Sanctuary Manager Brian Busta, and several members of the big cat and bear care staff. Camba was beloved by all, and her silly antics, beautiful face, and big personality will be tremendously missed.

On behalf of everyone at PAWS we wish to recognize and sincerely thank Kathryn Good, DVM, DACVO. She is a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist and faculty member at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. For the past eight years Dr. Good has assisted PAWS' veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Gai, with the diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions in big cats and elephants at our sanctuary. She is not only an expert in her field, she is described by Dr. Gai as a great teacher, a pleasure to work with, and a compassionate woman with a heart of gold. Her expertise has helped our veterinary team improve the quality of care that PAWS' animals receive. Most recently, she performed a comprehensive ophthalmic evaluation of lioness Camba. Dr. Soohyun Kim, a veterinary resident of the ophthalmology program at UC Davis, helped with the evaluation. (In the photo above, Dr. Good performs a retinal examination while African lioness Camba sleeps comfortably under general anesthesia.)
Support the Big Cat Public Safety Act!

You can help end the private ownership of big cats and their use in cub petting operations by supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act. The bill has been assigned to committees in the House and Senate, however it has yet to be heard. Click here for information on contacting your elected officials.
Dates Set for PAWS International Captive Wildlife Conference 2022!

The PAWS International Captive Wildlife Conference will take place November 11-12, 2022, in Sacramento, California, with an optional visit to the ARK 2000 sanctuary in nearby San Andreas on November 13. We are lining up an array of exceptional speakers for this in-person conference that will address issues involving big cats, cetaceans, elephants, and more. Registration will open on June 1.
April Amazon Wish List Donors:
Lissa and Steve Lefler: two 8 oz. bottles of EicosaDerm; one bag of raw sunflower kernels. Carolyn and Charles Anderson: one 3.3 lb. tub of Equithrive Joint Pellets. Jane: two 3.3 lb. tubs of Equithrive Joint Pellets. Robin Vitulle: one bottle of Emcelle Tocopherol Vitamin E. Lynn Bruser: one 3.3 oz. tub of Equithrive Joint Pellets. Tricia Turner: five 8 oz. bottles of EicosaDerm. Diana Harford: one 8 lb. tub of Manna Pro flax seed. Kimberly: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Beverly Archer: three 2 lb. bags of raw shelled almonds. Carole Bognar: one 8 lb. tub of Manna Pro flax seed. Anonymous Donors: two boxes of Procell Duracell AA Batteries; one 8 lb. tub of Manna Pro flax seed.
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. You can also review “wish list” items that are needed but not listed on Amazon. Click here for that list.
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P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632
(209) 745-2606
Rescued black bear lives in the Bob Barker Bear Habitat at ARK 2000.
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. Learn more
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 "Support a Rescued Tiger" 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, and shop using AmazonSmile.
EBAY Giving Works. List 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!
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
Attend A Fundraiser. PAWS sanctuaries ARE NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC but we do schedule a limited number of special events throughout the year. Click here to view PAWS' Calendar of Events. Due to COVID-19 concerns, all PAWS' events have been cancelled until further notice. Thank you for your understanding.