Rescue. Advocacy. Sanctuary. For Life.
Since 1984

June 2020 | Newsletter
Alka, the last of the Colton tigers, passed away in April of this year.

PAWS’ Historic Colton Tiger Rescue

Sixteen years later, the
big cat problem still persists!
In June 2004, PAWS undertook what was then the largest big cat rescue in U.S. history – saving 39 neglected and starving tigers from a roadside attraction posing as a refuge in Colton, California. For years, the inaptly named "Tiger Rescue" was a popular weekend destination offering public tours and photos with tiger cubs and other wild animals. What the public didn’t see was the horrific cruelty that led state authorities to arrest the owner, close the facility and confiscate the animals.
In 2002, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife seized 10 tigers from Tiger Rescue after finding them in filthy cages without water. They also suspected the owner of illegal breeding. Officials returned in 2003 to execute a search warrant at the owner's residence in nearby Glen Avon, finding tiger and leopard cubs in the home's attic, two tigers roaming a porch, two alligators in a bathtub, and, shockingly, 90 dead tigers, including 58 dead baby tigers in freezers. Many other big cats and exotic wildlife were found sick, injured and some barely alive. The State of California seized control of Tiger Rescue, where 54 big cats remained (above).
Homes were quickly found for the 15 big cats healthy enough to travel, leaving 39 of the sickest and neediest tigers. Sanctuaries around the country were at or near capacity, and most zoos do not want tigers of unknown genetic origin. So PAWS stepped in to take all of the remaining tigers. The rescue was an enormous undertaking, but we saved 39 lives and were honored to provide the tigers with a safe, natural, and healthy home for remainder of their lives (right). (Read more about the 39 tigers' journey to PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary here .)
The recent passing of the last of the Colton tigers, Alka, caused us to reflect on this historic rescue and the current – and future – state of tigers in the U.S. We wish we could say that the exploitation of big cats is behind us, but it’s not. In many states you can still pay to pet and take a photo with captive-bred cubs, including baby tigers as shown in the Netflix docuseries "Tiger King." Cub petting attractions are responsible for creating what has become a big cat crisis in the United States that threatens animal welfare and human safety.

The cub petting racket produces a large number of big cat cubs. Their operation depends on having cubs available at all times. To do this, they “speed breed” their females as often as three times a year (in nature females would have at least two years between litters), then tear the cubs from their mothers shortly after birth. The cubs can only be used for a short period of time, during which they are subjected to hours of rough handling, denied sleep, and may be slapped, dragged, and punched by handlers. By 12 weeks of age the cubs are too big and dangerous to handle. They are then sold to other roadside zoos, private owners, kept for breeding more cubs, or simply "disappear."
Fortunately, the tide may be turning. The Big Cat Public Safety Act has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. It would prohibit the private ownership of big cats and stop public contact with these animals, including in cruel cub petting operations. Here is the status of the bill:

House (H.R. 1380, introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Illinois): The bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee in September 2019 – the first time it has advanced the bill. Click  here  to see the list of 230 co-sponsors.
Senate (S. 2561, introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut): The Big Cat Public Safety Act is sitting in the Environment and Public Works Committee. It needs the public’s help to add co-sponsors and move the bill forward. Click  here  to see the list of co-sponsors.
The most important way you can help : Contact your representative and urge support for the Big Cat Public Safety Act. If your representative is a co-sponsor, be sure to thank them. Also contact your senators and ask that they support the bill and become a co-sponsor. Click  here  to find your representative and senators and their contact information.
More ways to help :
  • Never patronize any place that offers cub petting, photos, or other up-close “experiences” with wild animals.
  • Avoid wild animal shows, including circuses and those at local fairs.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about the cruelty involved in cub petting operations.
  • Initiate local legislation to end the use of wild animals in entertainment.
  • Contact PAWS and let us know if there is cub petting in your area. Email
  • Share what you’ve learned on social media and urge others to take action.
No big cat should ever have to suffer for someone’s selfie. We can prevail for big cats and stop the “tiger kings” in their tracks – but only if everyone takes action. Start by calling (most effective) and/or emailing your elected officials in Washington today!
View the documentary "39 Tigers" here
to learn more about this amazing rescue.

Happy 17th Birthday to Tigers
Roy, Claire, and Kim!
Tiger siblings Roy, Claire, and Kim were four months old when they arrived at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in October 2003. It’s heartbreaking to imagine the fate that these playful, energetic cubs narrowly escaped before their rescue. The three tigers were born on June 2, 2003, at a now-defunct roadside zoo in New Hampshire. They were destined to spend their lives being abused and exploited in a facility that constantly bred cubs for public handling and photo opportunities, and also sold them to other substandard roadside zoos or to become exotic “pets.” After being contacted by an animal welfare group that intervened to help the cubs, the late PAWS co-founder, Pat Derby, wholeheartedly agreed to give them a permanent, loving home. Once with us, they received a veterinary checkup by Dr. Jackie Gai, PAWS' director of veterinary services (shown above providing care for tiger cub Roy), and were fed a wholesome, nutritious diet. To prevent future breeding, Roy was neutered a few months after arrival, and Claire and Kim later underwent spay surgery.
The cubs (right) shared a large, grassy enclosure with a custom-built pool at our Galt sanctuary until March 2016, when they were moved to a much bigger habitat at ARK 2000. There, they have a larger, deeper pool where they can swim and cool off on warm days, oak trees that provide cool shade for lounging and long naps, and raised wooden platforms where they can rest and enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of nature.
Roy (left) is the largest tiger PAWS has ever rescued. He is so tall that even when standing on all fours he is almost as tall as some of our caregiving staff! He weighs 520 pounds and is much larger than his more diminutive sisters. Roy is very observant, watching all of the activities in the sanctuary from a vantage point in their grassy habitat. He enjoys sleeping as much as he does playing, and he can often be seen stretched out in the grass, sound asleep with his "little" sisters nearby.

In April 2017, Roy developed a sudden and severe viral infection in both of his eyes. Treatments were not successful in halting the damage caused by this aggressive infection, and it was unfortunately necessary to surgically remove his left eye. Dr. Gai enlisted the help of veterinary ophthalmologists from the University of California-Davis to perform a corneal graft surgery, which saved the vision in his right eye. This procedure was performed in our on-site Pat Derby Animal Wellness Center, and Roy's post-surgical care, including eye drops three times a day for several weeks, was expertly handled by tiger supervisor Renae and her staff. Roy's eye has healed well, and his joy of life remains unhampered. As an older tiger, he is coping with degenerative changes in his spine that are genetic evidence of the inbreeding and irresponsible breeding practices so common in roadside zoos. Special supplements and medications hidden in his food help keep Roy comfortable and active.
Claire (right) is calm and easy-going, and she enjoys taking naps in the shade. Her friendly personality makes it easy for caregivers to administer twice daily allergy medication, which are liquid drops that are specially formulated for the exact things she is allergic to. Just before each meal (she is fed twice a day), the drops are placed into a small pan which she eagerly laps up. After patiently waiting 10 minutes for the medication to absorb, she then gets her breakfast or dinner. Claire takes this daily routine in stride and enjoys the extra attention. She absolutely adores her big brother Roy and is never far from him. She seems to have a good sense of humor and will sometimes just plop down in the grass on her way in for dinner, luxuriously rolling on her back before continuing on. Claire loves a nice, cool dip in the pool.
Kim (left) is the smallest, but most brave and assertive of the three tigers. She weighs a "diminutive" 270 pounds, but has a feisty and outgoing personality that makes her seem much larger. Always keen to explore new things, Kim is usually the first to check out anything new. She has a bit of an independent streak and is happy to strike out and explore the habitat on her own – though she is just as content to nap alongside her siblings. Kim enjoys swimming in the pool when the weather is hot, and her favorite toy is a big yellow spool.

Although Roy, Claire, and Kim are 17 years old, we still refer to them as "the cubs" and always will. It has been a joy to care for them all of these years, and an honor to provide them the opportunity to live a more natural life, free to choose how to spend their days, free to just be tigers.

As tigers age, they require special medications, vitamins and supplements to keep them healthy, comfortable, and active. Your generous donations make this special care possible, and we are grateful for your support.

To make a donation to PAWS in honor of Roy, Claire and Kim's birthday, click here. To adopt one of these special tigers, click here.
Remembering Co-Founder Pat Derby
on Her Birthday
In 1984, PAWS President Ed Stewart and his partner, the late Pat Derby, established the Performing Animal Welfare Society. Together they paved the way for many important advances for captive wild animals, especially those used for entertainment. Pat would have celebrated her birthday on June 7, had she not lost her battle with cancer in 2013.

Pat was relentless in her drive to protect captive wildlife – from her days as a Hollywood animal trainer turned author of the exposé book, The Lady and the Tiger (1976), that detailed the entertainment industry’s cruel exploitation of wild animals, to her groundbreaking work on legislation. She twice spoke before Congress to argue for an end to the use of elephants in traveling shows. Together, Pat and Ed created the ARK 2000 sanctuary that revolutionized the idea of what a sanctuary could be – a place where rescued or retired captive wild animals could live out their lives in large, natural environments, while receiving the best of care.

If you ever met Pat, you didn’t soon forget her. Her passion for captive wild animals was contagious, and her determination to stop the injustices they endured was fierce. Pat left her mark on the world and all of our hearts – and she continues to inspire and uplift our vital work for the animals each and every day.
PAWS Advocates for Captive Wildlife Internationally
PAWS often unites with experts and organizations worldwide to advocate for captive wild animals. Most recently, PAWS joined nearly 240 international organizations in a letter calling on the United Nations World Tourism Organization and their Global Tourism Crisis Committee to phase out close-contact wildlife encounters and entertainment in tourism. As explained in the letter, spearheaded by World Animal Protection, the captive wildlife tourism industry is a source of animal suffering and ill health due to poor conditions . Capture, handling, and close contact with wildlife create unnecessary opportunities for the spread of disease. A transition toward wildlife-friendly tourism is better for the animals, people, and the planet.

Update: To date, the UNWTO has not responded to this letter, even as the organization has published documents addressing the restart of tourism. These documents fail to include the importance of protecting captive wildlife from entertainment as part of responsible recovery. Watch PAWS’ social media pages for posts you can share and send a strong message that using captive wildlife for entertainment threatens the health and welfare of animals and people alike.
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P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632
(209) 745-2606
Did you know that PAWS has an Amazon Wish List? We have chosen specific items that are needed at the sanctuary, which you can purchase directly from Amazon. 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.
Thank You!
June Amazon Wish List Donors
Peggy Buckner: one 64 oz. box of raisins, one 2-pack. of Laxatone. Richard W. Newton: one 10 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat; one box of AA batteries, 48-pack. Elke Riesterer: one 64 oz. box of raisins; one Probiocin. Patricia L. Connelly: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin and Coat. Monica Savage: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Liliane Morin: one red, heavy duty Boomer ball. Catherine C. Zugar: one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium. Susan Stangland: one 5 lb. tub of Psyllium. Anonymous Donors: 10 bottles of Emcelle Tocopherol; two bottles Azodyl, 90#; one book, "Book, Canine and Feline Urinalysis."
There are many ways
you can help PAWS animals:
Donate To PAWS. 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. 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

Give to one of PAWS' ongoing MightyCause fundraisers: the "Dollars for Dirt" or "Give BIG" campaigns for PAWS' elephants, or our "Support a Rescued Tiger" campaign to benefit the 14 rescued tigers living at our ARK 2000 sanctuary.
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!

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

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 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 generous donations make this excellent care possible.