Rescue. Advocacy. Sanctuary. For Life.
Since 1984

May 2021 | Newsletter
Former circus elephant Gypsy in her habitat at ARK 2000.
So You Think Circuses
with Wild Animal Acts Are Over?
Think Again!
When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus folded its big top forever in May 2017, many people believed it was the end of circuses with wild animal acts. We only wish that were true. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be subsiding, circuses are going back on the road with elephants, big cats and other animals.
Traveling shows include the Carden International Circus, Culpepper and Merriweather Circus, Tarzan Zerbini Circus, and Loomis Brothers Circus. Over the years these circuses have failed to meet minimum federal standards for the care of animals under the Animal Welfare Act. Citations range from failure to provide adequate veterinary care to the improper handling of animals, and failure to provide such basics as sufficient space, safe enclosures and proper nutrition. Some circus exhibitors, like Carson & Barnes and Franzen Bros., also rent out captive wild animals to other circuses.
Sadly, there are at least 20 elephants performing in circuses in the U.S. Many of them exhibit concerning signs of physical ailments, such as abnormal gaits that often signal foot and/or joint disorders. (Foot disease and arthritis are the leading reasons for euthanizing captive elephants.) Still, they are made to perform and give rides. Big cats spend prolonged periods of time in cramped cages that limit movement and the ability to avoid conflict with other cats, subjecting them to potential injury and death. Physical problems include obesity, cracked foot pads, and wounds. Both elephants and big cats are controlled through dominance and fear, and they display abnormal repetitive behaviors that are indicative of stress and poor welfare, such as swaying in elephants and pacing in big cats.
PAWS cares for three elephants and an African lion who came to us from circuses.
  • Prince was born at the Portland Zoo (now the Oregon Zoo) and sent to the circus before he was two years old – an age at which baby elephants are still nursing and never apart from their mothers.
  • Nicholas (pictured) was born into the circus, where he was made to perform tricks such as riding a tricycle and doing a balance beam act. By age five, he grew too strong and rebellious to be used in performances and was fated to be warehoused for the rest of his life.
  • Gypsy was snatched from her wild family and sold into captivity, where she spent an unimaginable 40 years, traded between at least six different circuses.
  • African lion Camba was held in a cramped cage in which she could barely stand up and turn around, trucked from town to town and forced to perform for noisy crowds. 
An early photo of Asian elephant Nicholas performing his balance beam act in the circus.
All of these animals have a new life at PAWS, roaming large habitats nestled in the oak tree-dotted, rolling hills of our ARK 2000 sanctuary. They enjoy privacy, safety, and a peaceful, yet dynamic, environment that allows them to express their innate behaviors.

People often wonder why sanctuaries are not approached to take elephants or big cats from circuses. The truth is that circuses seldom do the right thing and allow the animals to live out the rest of their lives in a better place, away from traveling, performances, and noisy crowds.
Fortunately, local and state laws continue to be passed that ban the use of wild animals in traveling shows. But more are needed! Be sure to check out our newsletter item (below) on state legislation involving captive wild animals. If a bill has been introduced in your state, please take action to support it!
Former circus lion Camba relaxes in her habitat at ARK 2000.
Colorado Passes Ban on Wild Animals in Circuses
Kudos to Colorado for passing the Traveling Animal Protection Act and to Colorado Voters for Animals for their hard work on behalf of this bill. Governor Jared Polis recently signed the Traveling Animal Protection Act into law, prohibiting the use of big cats, elephants, bears, and other wild animals in circuses and traveling acts. PAWS actively supported this important bill. Colorado joins California, Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, and New York in placing restrictions on the use of wild animals in traveling shows.
2021 State Legislation
Concerning Captive Wildlife
Following is a list of state bills introduced this year to protect captive wild animals. If you live in one of these states, please take action to support your bill. 

Massachusetts – H. 3376 (House – introduced by Reps. Lori Ehrlich and Bradley Jones, Jr.) and S. 2251 (Senate – introduced by Sen. Bruce Tarr) would prohibit the use of elephants, big cats (including hybrids), bears, primates, and giraffes in traveling shows.
Status: H. 3376/S.2251 referred to Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development. Follow progress of the bills here or here. See the MSPCA information page for this bill here and sign up for alerts.
Action: Contact members of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development and urge them to support H. 3376/S. 2251. If your legislator is on this committee, it is especially important to take action. Find your Massachusetts state legislators here.
New York – Assembly Bill 5542, sponsored by Asm. Steve Englebright, would prohibit the issuance of permits authorizing the use of wild animals in circuses or traveling animal acts.
Status: Bill referred to Committee on Environmental Conservation. Follow progress of the bill here.
Action: If your Assembly member sits on the Committee on Environmental Conservation (see list here), contact them in support of this bill, as written.

Nevada – SB 344, sponsored by Sen. James Ohrenschall, has been amended to prohibit public contact with dangerous wild animals.
Status: The bill has been sent to Governor Steve Sisolak for his signature.
Action: Use this online form to contact Governor Steve Sisolak and urge him to sign the bill into law.

You can also track the progress of your bill and calls for timely action by following the Humane Society of the U.S. Facebook page for your state or signing up for emails from animal protection organizations involved in your state’s bill.
Big Day of Giving a Tremendous Success!
A BIG thank you to everyone who donated so generously to PAWS during the 2021 Big Day of Giving 24-hour challenge on May 6th. You made this year's event one we'll never forget!

Generous friends from 35 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, Australia and Great Britain, helped PAWS raise $116,109 for care of the many rescued or retired wild animals living at our three sanctuaries. 
We appreciate each and every contribution, large and small, because we know you give from your heart. Thank you for providing a better life for the elephants, bears, big cats, monkeys and other wild animals at PAWS!
PAWS is grateful to these wonderful friends for their matching gifts: Margo Duckett, Colonel, USAF NC (ret) ($5,000), "Save the World Fund of the Sacramento Regional Community Foundation" on behalf of Sunni Burns ($200), Theresa Corrigan ($1,000), Kerr Family Foundation ($5,000), Allene and Jerome Lapides Foundation ($3,500), Laura Dowling and Doug Davis ($2,000), Deb Hoffman ($10,000), Dr. Kristina Wiley, DDS ($1,000), Sandi Monticelli ($10,000), Kevin and Susan McCourt ($1,000), Kiz and Bill at Tigers in America ($2,500), and three special donors who wish to remain anonymous ($17,000).
The Big Day of Giving is an annual fundraising event to benefit Sacramento, California, area non-profits.
Featured above: PAWS' rescued tiger Sawyer
Help Stop Cruel Cub Petting
and the Big Cat Pet Trade
PAWS continues to strongly support the federal Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R.263/S.1210). The bill would ban the private ownership of big cats such as lions and tigers and restrict public contact with these animals, putting an end to cub petting operations and their endless breeding of big cats for profit.
PAWS cares for tigers who were rescued from the exotic “pet” trade and defunct cub petting facilities – including Kim, Claire, Bigelow, Morris, Nimmo, Rosemary, Sawyer and Wilhelm. We need your help to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act and ensure that big cats no longer have to suffer for entertainment and profit.
Take action!
1. Send a message
Please ask your U.S. Senator to co-sponsor the Big Cat Public Safety Act, S. 1210. (Always include the bill number in your communications.) Locate your U.S. Senator here. Click on the link which will take you to their home page. Locate “Contact” on the menu and send your message via the online form provided there.

If you have not yet contacted your U.S. representative, please ask them to co-sponsor the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263. If your representative is one of the co-sponsors of the bill (check here), please thank them. Locate your U.S. Representative here. Follow the same steps as above.
Sample message: I am a constituent who very strongly supports the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 263/S. 1210) to end the exploitation and suffering of captive big cats in our country and protect the public. I urge you to co-sponsor this important bill.
(See points below that you can add to your message.)
2. Make a call
Call your Senator’s and/or Representative’s office in Washington, DC. Simply say that you are a constituent who is very concerned about the welfare of captive big cats and public safety. Urge them to co-sponsor the Big Cat Public Safety Act. Be sure to state the proper bill number for the House or Senate.
3. Share
Use social media to encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to take action.
Information points on the Big Cat Public Safety Act:
  • Prohibits the possession of lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, cougars, or any hybrid of these species by private individuals.
  • Zoos, universities, and bona fide sanctuaries are exempt from the prohibition.
  • Current captive big cat owners are grandfathered in, but they must register their animals. They cannot breed or acquire more big cats.
  • Restricts direct contact between the public and big cats of any age.

Why this bill is needed:
  • Thousands of big cats are thought to be in private hands, posing a danger to the public and to first responders when these animals escape or attack.
  • Since 1990, there have been nearly 380 dangerous incidents involving captive big cats in 46 states and the District of Columbia, with 20 adults and five children killed and many more injured.
  • Cub petting operations continuously breed big cats so they can sell photo and handling sessions with young cubs to the public. Cubs are often subjected to rough handling, denied sleep, and abused by their handlers.
  • Cubs are separated from their mothers shortly after birth. When they get too big to handle and are no longer profitable, they may be funneled into the exotic pet trade, sold to other disreputable exhibitors, or may end up in the illegal trade in wildlife parts.
  • Cub petting facilities fuel the demand for “pet” big cats.

Thank you for taking action!
Tessa the Tiger Passes Away
On October 8, 2019, PAWS welcomed tigers Tessa, Czar, and Mungar to our ARK 2000 sanctuary. They were among many animals needing placement when their previous home, Wildlife Waystation, permanently ceased operations and relinquished their permit to keep wild animals. Seventeen-year-old Tessa was curious and friendly, but also a bit timid when she first arrived, preferring to observe the activities of her caregivers from the security and comfort of the elevated wooden platform in her den area.
When Tessa met her neighbor Sawyer, another female tiger, they became fast friends. After breakfast each morning, Tessa and Sawyer loved to run up and down the rolling, grassy hills of their large habitat, side by side along their shared fence line. Tessa was no longer a wallflower. She quickly became cheerful and outgoing, greeting caregivers and other tigers alike with a friendly "chuff." Tiger Supervisor Renae remembers how wonderful it was to see Tessa's inner light shine through as her personality blossomed. Tessa loved playing with her very own heavy-duty ball, and relaxing in the grass on a sunny day.
Tessa began to show signs that she wasn't feeling well in late summer of last year, so our veterinary team performed a comprehensive physical examination under anesthesia. She was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, a progressive ailment that is unfortunately common in older cats, both domestic and wild. Special medications and supplements gave her a new lease on life until her condition suddenly declined in April. When it became clear that medications and special care could no longer make her feel better, and when diagnostic tests confirmed that her kidneys were failing, the very difficult but most compassionate decision was made to perform euthanasia to prevent future suffering.
When we welcome older animals to our sanctuary, we provide a safe, healthy, comfortable, and peaceful place for them to enjoy life. Although we knew her for what seemed like too short a time, we adored her and are honored to have been able to provide her a home.

Tessa passed from this life on April 27, 2021 at the age of 19, surrounded by many of her loving caregivers. Tessa will always have a special place in our hearts, and she will be greatly missed.
Book a PAWS Speaker for Your Online Class!

If you are looking for a unique way to broaden your students’ online learning experience, PAWS can provide a guest speaker for your college or high school classes. Topics can range from an overview of our sanctuary work to more in-depth discussions of captive wild animal issues, ethics, and care. Contact PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy at for more information. Speakers are provided at no charge.
Above: Former circus elephant Prince in his 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 generous donations make this excellent care possible.
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.
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. 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.
Thank You May Amazon Wish List Donors!
Willie and Jan Nelson: one box of Denamarin, 30#. Maria Pelka: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#; one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#; one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin & Coat. Carole Bognar: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Kimberly Sommerhaug: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#.
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P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632
(209) 745-2606
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 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 12 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.