Rescue. Advocacy. Sanctuary. For Life.
Since 1984

January 2022 | Newsletter
PAWS Longest Term Sanctuary Resident:
African Elephant Mara
When PAWS rescues a wild animal in need, it is for life. That means we often will be caring for these animals for decades to come. African elephant Mara (pictured) is the sanctuary’s longest-term resident – she arrived 32 years ago this month. We are also celebrating her 42nd birthday this year. It’s hard to think that we first met Mara when she was only 10 years old!
Mara remains one of our more colorful personalities, known for her high energy, self-confidence, and a bit of a mischievous streak. She loves to knock down and eat trees, including the bark and leafy branches, which is a what an elephant in the wild naturally does. 
Mara’s life began in an unknown country in Africa, where she was born into a close-knit family. She was being raised by her mother, grandmother, aunts and older female siblings, and spent time playing with other calves. She learned from the older females as she explored a rich and complex natural world – never straying far from her fiercely protective mother. Sadly, her family was no match for what was to come.
When Mara was about two years old, her mother and adult family members were targeted for extermination in a cull – a government sanctioned slaughter to reduce population size. The traumatized calves were spared, only to be sold into captivity. Mara was sent to the Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California. As the zoo’s lone elephant, she "entertained" visitors during the day. After hours, she was immobilized in chains.
The zoo then decided to sell Mara to a circus in Mexico. Fortunately, a group called Friends of Mara took up her cause, and a generous mother and daughter donated the funds necessary to purchase Mara. (This family is still involved with PAWS, and we are extremely appreciative of their support.) Friends of Mara sent the young elephant to Florida where she lived with more than 80 other imported elephant orphans on a 600-acre estate owned by businessman Arthur Jones. A reversal of fortune soon caused Jones to sell off the elephants. Mara was again slated for sale to a circus.
When PAWS co-founders Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby heard about Mara's impending sale, they alerted Friends of Mara and moved quickly to rescue her from a lifetime of misery in the circus. Mara arrived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in January 1990.
Today, Mara and companion Thika (pictured) roam a spacious, hilly habitat dotted with broad oak trees. They spend their days foraging on fresh vegetation, enjoying occasional dust baths, and exploring a complex natural environment with ever-changing sights, smells, and sounds. They are free to spend their time as they choose.
PAWS is proud to have provided Mara with the best life she could have in captivity, including a peaceful natural environment. Like all the animals at PAWS, she is shown only love and respect. I hope you will join us in celebrating this very special elephant with us!
If you would like to make a donation in honor of Mara, please click here.
Notable January Anniversaries at PAWS
Emu Georgette (pictured) was rescued five years ago this month! She was found roaming the streets of Valley Springs, not too far from ARK 2000. PAWS stepped in and give her a forever home. Emu are the second largest bird by height, second only to the ostrich.
The first of a group of tigers called the “Colorado Eight” arrived at ARK 2000 five years ago, rescued from a defunct roadside zoo. PAWS team members recall them stepping out of their transport cages and into their habitats, delighting in eating and rolling in lush green grass – a simple pleasure that many captive tigers never get to experience. The remaining four tigers arrived at PAWS in February that year.
On January 25, 2017, we celebrated the opening of the Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center at ARK 2000. Named in honor of the late PAWS co-founder, the 1,800-square-foot facility allows us to provide on-site diagnosis and treatment of animals. The Center is outfitted with state-of-the-art medical equipment and features a conference room and library, surgery suite, pharmacy, office, and large treatment room. Click here to take a video tour of the Wellness Center.
Victory: No tiger act in Las Vegas!
A dwindling number of exhibitors continue to resist the fact that the public no longer favors the use of wild animals for entertainment. This was proven again in Las Vegas where magician Jay Owenhouse sought a permit for his tiger act and ended up withdrawing his request. He faced huge opposition based on concerns for public safety and the welfare of his three tigers.
Owenhouse had proposed setting up operations in a parking lot near the Las Vegas strip, with a tent for performances and small nearby cages that he had the audacity to call a “sanctuary.” The tigers would have been exposed to temperature extremes, especially during the summer, and constant noise from the surrounding area.
PAWS was pleased to contribute to this effort, but the real heroes are the local people and organizations that worked so hard for this outcome. Congrats!
Must-read Article: Fighting for Russia’s Wild Tigers
Kudos to Allison Skidmore (pictured), whose groundbreaking research into tiger poaching in Russia’s Far East is the subject of a recent National Geographic article, “Siberian tigers are being hunted at night for their body parts.”  (Read it here.) 

The story details how tigers are being poached in Russia and their bones shipped to China. In that country, tiger bones and other body parts are in demand for traditional medicine. Today, there are only 600 Siberian tigers (also known as Amur tigers) remaining in the wild, mostly in Russia. The article goes into fascinating detail about how Allison conducted interviews with a hundred hunters and 12 buyers of tiger parts to document how the illegal tiger trade functions — as well as the danger and backlash she has faced.
We’re proud that Allison is a big fan of our work at PAWS! We met her when she brought her class to ARK 2000 as part of our “Wild Animals in Captivity: Exploring the Interface Between Humans and Wildlife” program for college students. (The program is currently on hold due to the pandemic.) She is a courageous person whose important research sheds light on wildlife crime and the need for more work in this critical area. Hopefully, Allison’s research will prompt greater protections for Russia’s remaining wild tigers.
Gucci Sets Back Cause of Captive and Wild Tigers
This month, Gucci launched a fashion campaign video featuring live tigers roaming among models during high tea at a luxurious hotel. This wrong-headed move comes at a time when tigers are barely hanging with only 3,900 of them remaining in the wild, and captive tigers continue to suffer in decrepit roadside zoos and cub petting operations.
Gucci defended its actions by claiming that American Humane certified their film shoot with the tigers (the tigers’ images were digitally inserted into the video). However, American Humane, known for its “No Animals Were Harmed” trademark in film and TV credits, does not have the best track record. A 2013 investigative article in the Hollywood Reporter revealed accounts of animal injury, death, and cover-ups on productions overseen by American Humane – to which they turned a blind eye.
To offset its ad campaign, Gucci is participating in the Lion’s Share Fund, through which companies donate a small portion of their media spend each time an animal appears in their ads. The idea is to raise money for animal conservation and welfare causes, but we question whether this charitable group intended to receive money from companies that exploit endangered animals. Certainly, Gucci’s donation will not be enough to counteract the serious damage they cause.
Sending a dangerous message
Gucci’s campaign dangerously equates tigers with status. In fact, tigers are poached for their pelts, body parts, and products because they are valued as status symbols. Desire for these products has led to cruel breeding “farms” in China and other countries that can hold hundreds of tigers in small, miserable cages before their eventual slaughter. These farms do not stop the desire for wild tiger products. Instead, they perpetuate the demand for them and provide cover for the illegal trade in wild tigers.
Harm to captive tigers
By glorifying tigers as expensive “pets” and characterizing them as docile and compatible with people, Gucci fuels the exotic “pet” trade. Captive tigers are not domesticated animals. They are powerful apex predators who retain their wild instincts and natural reflexes, making them unpredictable and very dangerous. Furthermore, tigers suffer when held by private owners who confine them in impoverished cages and deny them appropriate nutrition and care. Private ownership props up tiger breeders who blatantly disregard the animals’ long-term health and welfare.
Misleading images also get captive tigers killed. When people believe tigers are safe to get near or touch, it’s the tiger who pays. Recently, a man reached into a tiger’s cage at the Naples Zoo in Florida so he could pet the animal. The tiger clamped down on the man’s arm and would not let go. The tiger, named Eko, was shot and killed.
There already is a big cat crisis in the United States, due to breeders that continuously produce tiger cubs for roadside zoos, the pet trade, and cub petting attractions. Please contact your elected leaders in Washington, DC, and urge them to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act that would end the private ownership of big cats and their use in cub petting operations. Click here for more information on how you can help.
Please join PAWS in calling for Gucci to end its destructive ad campaign now.
Take action
Send a message to Gucci through social media (@Gucci on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), email their headquarters at, or send a message through their website by clicking here.

Beloved Tiger Kim Passes Away
PAWS is saddened to share the news that Kim the tiger has passed away at the age of 18 years.
Kim and her two siblings, Roy and Claire, were four months old when they arrived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in October 2003. The three tigers were born at a roadside zoo in New Hampshire, a facility that constantly bred cubs for photo shoots, other roadside zoos and the exotic pet trade. When the zoo was finally shut down, PAWS was contacted by an animal welfare group asking if we would provide a permanent, loving home for the young tigers We wholeheartedly said yes.
The "cubs", as they were always affectionately known, lived at our Galt sanctuary until their move to ARK 2000 in 2016. Here, they enjoyed a large, grassy habitat filled with shady oak trees and a large pool. Kim's brother Roy passed away in November 2020. Kim’s sister Claire still lives at ARK 2000 in the same habitat they once shared.
Kim was the smallest, but most brave of the three tigers. Always keen to explore, she was the first to check out anything new. When the siblings were moved from Galt to ARK 2000, no one was surprised when she was the first of the three to voluntarily step into her transport cage. She was confident, independent, and full of playful energy. When PAWS’ caregiving staff provided new objects for the tigers to play with in their habitat, Kim was the first to bolt out and claim them as her own. She loved to swim and could often be seen contentedly wading in the cool water of her large pool. PAWS staff use the word "spunky" to describe this special tiger.
Kim was in excellent health for most of her life. In April 2021 we noticed a decrease in her appetite, and she began showing other mild but concerning signs. An anesthetized physical examination in May confirmed chronic kidney disease, an ailment that is all too common in both older wild and domestic cats. PAWS’ veterinarians prescribed medications and supplements to support kidney function and overall health, and caregivers provided extra attention and care.
Kim's appetite never fully returned, but she remained playful and cheerful until mid-December when she became more subdued. When it was evident that medications were no longer helping and her appetite abruptly declined, the difficult but most compassionate decision was made to euthanize her to prevent suffering.
Kim passed from this life on January 1, 2022, surrounded by those who loved her dearly, many who had known her since she was a small cub. We will never forget her playfulness, independent streak, small stature, and the BIG personality that made us all love her so much.

If you would like to make a donation in memory of Kim, please click here.
January Amazon Wish List Donors:
Dan Brinkman: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin & Coat. Lisa Klotz: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. N. Gordon: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#; one 32 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm. Deborah Shaw: six bottles of CosequinDS, 132#; four bottles of AminAvast, 60#; one 32 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm. Joy Christian: one bottle of Cosequin DS, 132#; one bottle AminAvast, 60#. Marisa Landsberg: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#; one bottle of AminAvast, 60#. Anonymous Donors: one bottle of McCormick ground cinnamon; 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. 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
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.