Rescue. Advocacy. Sanctuary. For Life.
Since 1984


Bears In Captivity:
The Overlooked Animals

Sampson, a black bear, was once was displayed in a dilapidated drive-through roadside attraction that had been cited for numerous violations of animal welfare law.
Boo Boo was a “pet” who became too unsafe to handle as he grew. His owners put a chain around his neck and left it there. The chain became embedded deep in Boo Boo’s neck and it wasn’t until after he was rescued that it was surgically removed.
Winston, Boo Boo’s enclosure-mate, came from a breeding compound where he was destined to become someone’s pet.
Ben (pictured above and below at ARK 2000) was confined at a roadside zoo in a barren 12x22 foot cage made of concrete and chain link. He was fed dry dog food that was dumped onto the same floor where he urinated and defecated.
Today, these bears are safe and cared for at PAWS’ ARK 2000 sanctuary, in natural enclosures filled with grass, bushes, trees and a pool. They can engage in activities that are meaningful to them: digging, exploring, creating nest areas to sleep in, and foraging for food, including acorns that fall from shady oak trees.
Other captive bears are not so fortunate . While the public is becoming more sensitive to the exploitation of captive big cats and elephants, they are not as aware of the problems bears face in captivity, where they often are deprived of all that is natural and important to them.
In nature, bears spend most of their time foraging for food across vast areas, which keeps their bodies fit and their keen minds challenged. Black and brown bears are opportunistic omnivores who consume a wide variety of seasonally available foods such as fruits, berries, herbs, flowers, insects, grubs, vegetation, fish and carrion. In captivity, things are very different.
Roadside zoos and “bear pits”
Captive facilities such as roadside zoos and “bear pits” often confine bears in small and filthy enclosures, with inadequate diets and care. This leads to a range of problems, including obesity due to inactivity, foot and joint problems caused by standing and walking on hard surfaces like concrete, and abnormal repetitive behaviors such as pacing and head rolling.
Bear pits, in which the animals are confined in deep concrete enclosures, are a form of sensory deprivation. All the bears can see are concrete walls and humans (who they see as predators) hovering above them, creating a continuous source of stress. Tourists who visit bear pits can buy food to throw to the animals, who unnaturally beg or repetitively pace. Although bears’ nutritional demands change with the seasons, these facilities often ignore their important dietary needs. In roadside attractions, bears may be denied shelter from inclement weather or the opportunity to retreat to a den in the winter.

Captive facilities such as roadside zoos, “bear pits”, and cub petting operations often confine bears in small and filthy enclosures, with inadequate diets and care.

 Bear cub petting
Roadside zoos may offer sessions where visitors pay to handle or pose for pictures with young bears. Cubs are separated from their mothers at a young age, even though they would naturally spend about 17 months together. This deprives cubs of their mother’s milk and antibodies that are crucial to their developing immune systems, leaving them susceptible to disease. Photo and play sessions expose cubs to excessive handling, injury and stress. Facility staff may punch, violently shake or abuse young bears who "act up."
Black bear cubs weigh about 20 pounds at four months of age. By eight months, they can weigh 50 to 75 pounds. Bears have non-retractable claws, so even a young bear can cause injury to children and adults handling them. Once a cub is too old to be handled by the public, they are no longer of use and may be sold to other zoos, private owners, or used to produce more cubs. Unwanted bears may be slaughtered for the exotic meat market or the illegal trade in bear parts.

Bears have non-retractable claws, so even a young bear like the one shown in this photo can cause injury to children and adults handling them.

Bear shows and the pet trade
Some county and state fairs still feature cruel and archaic bear shows. Chained by the neck, bears are forced to perform ridiculous tricks such as balancing on balls, riding on scooters and walking on their front legs. Just like a circus, the bears are hauled around in dirty trucks, intensively confined, and subjected to violent training methods. Some roadside attractions also feature bear shows.

The private ownership of bears is inhumane for the animals and unsafe for people. “Pet” bears are often confined in tiny backyard cages where they will spend their lives in misery, deprived of all that is natural to them. Even bears who were captive-born and bottle-raised remain wild and are capable of killing people and inflicting serious injuries.

What you can do
An estimated 3,000 bears are confined in the U.S., with over 1,000 of them in non-accredited or zoo-like facilities – though there is no way to know the exact number. You can help these highly intelligent and active animals by :
Avoiding roadside attractions that exploit bears and bear cubs, and urging your friends to do the same.
Never take a selfie with a bear cub or any other wild animal.
Don’t be fooled by places that call themselves sanctuaries. A true sanctuary would never offer cubs for petting or photos, and they don’t buy, breed or make their animals perform.
Support PAWS’ rescue and sanctuary work for bears! PAWS spends about $10,000 per month to provide our seven bears with individualized diets, veterinary care, and daily TLC. Click here to make a donation . You can also “adopt” a bear for yourself or a friend; click here for more information. 
World Wildlife Day Is March 3 rd
Will You Help Big Cats?

The United Nations World Wildlife Day is a global celebration of the rich variety of wild animals on our planet, and a time to raise awareness of the plight of endangered species. The focus of World Wildlife Day 2018 is “Big cats: predators under threat.”
Big cats such as cheetah, jaguar, leopard, lion, puma, snow leopard and tiger are found in many parts of the world, from Africa to Asia and the Americas. They are among the most powerful creatures on the planet, but also the most at risk due to the many threats to their survival in the wild, including loss of habitat and prey, poaching and smuggling, human-wildlife conflict, or climate change.
In the U.S. more than 10,000 big cats are languishing in deplorable conditions, including roadside zoos, traveling shows, or squalid backyard cages as exotic “pets.” They are bred over and over to produce cubs for operations that charge the public to handle and take photos with them, without any consideration for the animals’ welfare. All of the rescued big cats we care for at PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary have come from these places.

You can help end captive big cat abuse!
Take action to support HR 1818, The Big Cat Public Safety Act , a bill that would end the private breeding and ownership of big cats nationally – and better protect big cats and the public. Some states may already have regulations that attempt to protect big cats, but they simply are not working.
Call your U.S. Representative. You can locate your Representative’s name and contact information here , then call and ask that she or he champion HR 1818, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, and end the abuse of captive big cats.
Ask friends and family to call as well.
Go one step farther for big cats : Make a commitment to call your U.S. Representative once a week! The more calls Representatives receive, the faster big cats will finally be protected.

Make a donation to support PAWS' rescue, sanctuary and advocacy work for big cats by clicking here .
Thank you for helping big cats!
Pictured above: PAWS President Ed Stewart with Elephant Nature Park founder Sangduen “Lek” Chailert (left) and Kery Shaw (event auction chair and PAWS benefactor) at The Gray Event fundraiser held on February 25th in Corona del Mar. The event was a benefit for Chailert's Save Elephant Foundation in Thailand.  A big thank you to PAWS' friend Kery Shaw!
Cal State Chico Students and Professors
Take Part in New PAWS Program

PAWS welcomed its first class to our innovative new program for college-level professors and their students, Wild Animals in Captivity: Exploring the Interface Between Humans and Wildlife , presented at the ARK 2000 sanctuary. Professors Dr. Rebecca Brunelli and Dr. Tag Engstrom and students from California State University, Chico learned about the animals we care for, and explored the issues surrounding captive and wild animals, and how those issues resonate in the larger world today. If you are interested in participating in this program, please contact PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy Catherine Doyle at .
U.C. Davis Students
Visit ARK 2000 Sanctuary

On February 10th, PAWS had the pleasure of hosting a group of students enrolled in the  Human-Animal Interactions, Benefits and Issues  course at the University of California, Davis. This group consisted of undergraduate students with a variety of interests, including Animal Behavior, Animal Science, and Veterinary Medicine. Students toured elephant, tiger, and bear areas with PAWS President and Co-founder, Ed Stewart  and also watched a protected-contact training session with sanctuary manager Brian Busta and Asian bull elephant Nicholas. The group was led by professor Lynette Hart of the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and this tour marked the 31st year that this class has toured PAWS.
Photo courtesy of the Ledger Dispatch

Fire Fighters
Tour ARK 2000
This month, 24 members of the Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp in Amador County were treated to a special tour of ARK 2000 hosted by PAWS President Ed Stewart. This juvenile camp program is designed to teach employability skills and prepare young men in the juvenile corrections system to reintegrate back into society, reducing the recidivism rate.

Pine Grove is jointly operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire) for young men 18-24 years old. CAL Fire provides training, and participants are certified to engage in wild land firefighting operations. Fire crews from Pine Grove and other camps perform approximately 180,000 hours of fire suppression services in a “normal” year for the people of California, and clean local streams and rivers to reduce the potential of flooding.

These young men provide an important service and help conserve California’s resources. PAWS thanks them for their efforts, and wish them all the very best.
Jake, Beloved PAWS Tiger, Passes Away

Jake was a favorite of the care giving staff at PAWS. He had a cheerful, easy-going personality and was always eager to greet people with a friendly "chuff." His short legs and unusual facial features gave him a unique appearance and made him easy to recognize. As supervisor Renae fondly recalls, he loved everyone and everyone loved him. Tigers by nature tend to be loners, or at least very selective about which tigers they want to be near, but Jake welcomed all tigers with whom he came into contact through the fence line, greeting them with a chuff and an affectionate head rub as if to say "welcome to PAWS!"

Jake was one of three tigers rescued from a failing facility in Ohio that was forced to close its doors due to financial problems, looming revocation of its exhibitor’s license due to unsafe enclosures, and increasingly tough regulations. The tigers arrived at PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary in June 2012. Jake was notable for his atypical facial features, and shortened, curved legs (dwarfism) – evidence that his birth was the product of inbreeding, which is very common in roadside zoos and other unscrupulous facilities that breed tigers to produce cubs for public handling and photo sessions. Jake had also been declawed on all four feet, and he sucked his tail occasionally, a sign of being weaned prematurely from his mother. Declawing big cats can cause them to have painful, crippling deformities in severe cases, and at the very least can change the way they bear weight and predispose them to developing arthritis at an early age. Jake's malformed legs and declawed paws probably contributed to his development of arthritis at the age of 14. 

Active and playful, Jake thoroughly enjoyed the grass, trees, logs, and large habitat at ARK 2000. When he had a sudden bout of illness in early 2016, PAWS' veterinarians diagnosed kidney disease and arthritis. Once he began receiving special supplements and medications for these conditions, he quickly bounced back to health and continued to be active and happy. In late January Jake's appetite began to decrease, and after performing a comprehensive physical exam under anesthesia our veterinarians discovered that his kidneys were failing. Throughout his illness, Jake remained friendly and cooperative, taking his medicines well and enjoying the extra TLC provided by caregivers.

When Jake’s condition continued to decline, and it was clear that his kidney disease was not responding to treatment, the most difficult but compassionate decision was made to gently euthanize him to prevent future suffering. He passed from this life on February 19th, surrounded by the love of many who cared for him. Jake was almost 17 years old at the time of his passing, and will be tremendously missed.
Tickets Now On Sale!

PAWS' 2018
"Elephant Grape Stomp:
An Afternoon In TUSKany"
You won’t want to miss the 12th annual "Elephant Grape Stomp: An Afternoon In TUSKany", taking place on April 21 at the ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas. There simply is no other event like it!
  • Enjoy wine tasting provided by more than a dozen award-winning California Gold Country vineyards.
  • Savor delightful plant-based cuisine at our new "international" food stations created by Executive Chef MJ Espiritu Gerometta of Pivotal Foods, Jeff Newland of Dos Coyotes and Miyokos Kitchen.
  • Visit our rescued and retired tigers, bears and elephants and learn about their stories.
  • Cast a vote for your favorite elephant to win the Ms./Mr. Tuskany contest. The winner receives a tasty edible bouquet and you support the animals at PAWS!
  • Shop our fabulous silent auction.
This is an adults-only event (21+). Tickets are $100 per person and must be purchased in advance. Proceeds go toward the care of the animals at PAWS’ three sanctuaries.
Purchase your tickets today!
Click here to buy tickets and get more information about the Grape Stomp. You can also vote for your favorite elephant in the Mr./Ms. TUSKany contest; votes are $5 each. Or call the PAWS office at (209) 745-2606, M-F, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST, to charge your tickets and vote.
Even if you can’t attend this event, you can still root for your favorite elephant to become the next Mr. or Ms. TUSKany by purchasing votes here or by calling the PAWS office.
Ticket sales and voting end on Thursday, April 19; tickets will not be available for purchase at the door. 
We look forward to seeing you in April!

* * * * *
No grapes are actually stomped at the event. As we go to press, area wineries that will be participating in this year's event include: Black Sheep , Irish Vineyards , Ironstone , Milliaire , Renegade , Stevenot , Twisted Oak , Vina Moda and Zucca Mountain .
Tickets Still Available for
March 10 ARK 2000 Open House
A limited number of tickets are still available for our upcoming ARK 2000 Open House to be held on Saturday, March 10th, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $50 for adults, $35 for seniors (65 and over) and $25 for children age 12 and under. No tickets will be sold at the gate on the day of the event and these events do sell out.
Visitors to ARK 2000 open houses will board shuttles to the bear, lion, tiger, leopard and elephant habitats. Once you exit the shuttle you will be walking on grass, dirt, gravel, and sometimes paved surfaces, so please wear comfortable shoes. PAWS management, keepers and volunteers will be on hand to tell you about the animals and answer questions. A gift shop will be available on the day of the event. We accept cash, checks and all major credit cards.
This event happens rain or shine . Tickets are not refundable.
Two ways to purchase: Click here to buy online and print your tickets at home; or call 209-745-2606, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST, to charge by phone. Visit our calendar of events page for more information. Ticket sales close on Thursday, March 9th,  or earlier if this event sells out.
Thank You February
Wish List Donors!
Kris Cooper: two 8 ft. x 10 ft. outdoor storage sheds. Debbie Larkin: one 24" heavy duty turquoise Boomer Ball (pictured left) for the tigers (this one will be going to Artemis, one of the Colton tigers). Joanne & Paul Osburn: two bags of Greenies Pill Pockets, 60#; one bottle Emcelle Tocopherol. Chelsea: one quart of Red Cell. Justin Matusi: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Carrie Kahus: one box of #10 windowed envelopes; one set of radios (walkie talkies); one box of 22 gal. trash bags. Howard Goldby: one 10 lb. tub Psyllium; one gallon of Red Cell; one quart of Red Cell. Karen M. Osgood: three bottles of AnimAvast, 60#. Caroline Kane: one set of radios (walkie talkies); one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#; one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Michael Strobel: 10 bottles of Emcelle Tocopherol, 1000 ml. Cristen Esquibel: one qt. of Red Cell; one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#. Lisa Raisbeck Purelight: one quart of Red Cell; one package of AA batteries, 24#. Nancy Gordon:  one set of radios (walkie talkies). Anonymous Donors: two quarts of Red Cell; one Probiocin Oral Get, one box of 9x12 envelopes; one box of 42 gal. trash bags; two push brooms; one 7 qt. water bucket.

Click on PAWS' "wish list" links below to
donate specific items that are needed at our sanctuaries:

View "wish list" items that are needed,
but not listed on the Amazon list,  here .
There are many ways you can help PAWS animals:
Donate To PAWS. PAWS receives no government funding and must rely on your donations to continue our work. Three ways to give and every donation matters.  Learn more

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 coffee mugs - available from our  online gift shop .

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

PAWS Amazon Wish List. 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!

Donate Your Vehicle To PAWS.

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.
PAWS provides lifetime care to the tigers, bears, elephants, and other animals that call our sanctuaries home. As animals age, their needs change and they may develop arthritis, kidney disease, and other conditions that are readily treatable with proper care. PAWS expert animal care and veterinary staff provide specialized nutritional and medical support, tailored to the individual needs of each animal.
Your generous donations make this excellent care possible.
Connect with us:
P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632
(209) 745-2606