Rescue. Advocacy. Sanctuary. For Life.

Since 1984

Newsletter | January 2023

PAWS' emus in their new enclosure at ARK 2000.

PAWS 2023 – A New Chapter Begins

As of this month, all of the rescued and retired wild animals we care for are now in one place, our 2,300-acre ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas, California. As a result, our original sanctuary in Galt and the Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge in Herald are now closed. (Our main office will remain at the Galt location indefinitely.) We have long planned for the move which brings our animal family together at one location and begins a new chapter in PAWS’ history.

The Early Years

The Performing Animal Welfare Society was established in 1984 by the late Pat Derby and her partner and current PAWS president, Ed Stewart. Pat was a Hollywood animal trainer in the 1960s and early 1970s who rejected the industry and exposed its behind-the-scenes cruelty in her best-selling book “The Lady and Her Tiger” (1976). Together, she and Ed made it their life’s work to end the use of wild animals for entertainment.


That same year Pat and Ed opened a sanctuary in Galt, California, for their own group of animals who had been retired from performing. They didn’t expect the influx of captive wildlife that soon would come their way. As the area’s only permitted facility for exotic animals, officials brought confiscated lions, wolves, and other wild animals to the facility. As Pat stated, “The Performing Animal Welfare Society was founded out of necessity.” Galt became home to PAWS and over the years gave refuge to more than 200 animals. In 1986, the arrival of a sickly baby elephant named “71” established PAWS as the first elephant sanctuary in the country.

In 1997, PAWS opened the 75-acre Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge in tribute to a great friend and benefactor, the late actress Amanda Blake, known as “Miss Kitty” on the TV series Gunsmoke. Over the next 25 years, the sanctuary provided a safe home for rescued emu, rhea, fallow deer, eland, and a herd of scimitar-horned oryx. The refuge property also was the location of the now closed Amanda Blake Museum (see article below).

PAWS opened the more spacious and natural ARK 2000 sanctuary in 2002 to provide refuge for rescued and retired elephants, big cats, and bears – and to provide a model for a better way to care for captive wildlife. African elephants 71 and Mara were moved from the Galt sanctuary to ARK 2000 and became its first residents. Eventually, all the animals would be brought to ARK 2000.

The Final Move to ARK 2000

There’s a lot that goes into moving captive wild animals, often with months of preparation. This ensures the move is less stressful, safer for the animals and their caregivers, and provides a smoother transition to their new home.

At the Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge, a “mob” of six emus remained. Last December, longtime caregivers Erica and Peggy coaxed them into a large, comfortable trailer for the trip to ARK 2000 and safely unloaded the birds into their new habitat.

The emus' new enclosure is large and grassy, with many shady oak trees, and these curious birds are exploring all of it. The “mob” is settling in well and getting to know the caregiving staff who are slowly winning them over with grapes and kind words.


Galt’s last remaining residents, muntjac Mojo (a small exotic deer) and Capuchin monkeys Zeppo and Chico, were the next to move, arriving this month. Galt supervisor Larry worked with Mojo for more than a year, getting him used to going in and out of a crate. As Mojo gradually became comfortable, Larry would close the door and gently rock the crate to mimic the motion during transport, and Mojo always remained calm.

At over 20 years old, Mojo (pictured) is an elderly muntjac. He has limited eyesight and hearing, so it was important to accustom him to this big change gently and gradually. Mojo trusts Larry, and this relationship made all the difference for a smooth, peaceful trip. Mojo's crate was transported by PAWS' veterinary technician Lynn. She followed behind PAWS Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Jackie Gai, whose vehicle carried the monkeys. Upon arriving at his new enclosure at ARK 2000, Mojo calmly exited his crate and immediately began to nibble on tender grass shoots and explore his new surroundings.

Capuchin monkeys Chico (pictured) and Zeppo (below) approached their move like a big adventure! Dr. Gai, Larry, Lynn, and caregiver Becky worked together to encourage the monkeys to voluntarily enter their crates. We expected them to be hesitant; in the past 27 years they had only left their enclosures for veterinary examinations. To our delight and surprise, each monkey briefly peeked into their cozy crate and then stepped right in with confidence.

As Dr. Gai transported the monkeys, she checked on them using the rearview mirror and saw that they seemed fascinated by the scenery along the drive to ARK 2000. Both monkeys have made themselves right at home in their new den and are being gradually introduced to their outdoor habitats. 


Thank you to everyone who made these big moves happen while keeping the animals safe, calm, and ready for their new homes! 

Special Amanda Blake ("Miss Kitty")

Sale to Benefit PAWS

With the closing of the Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge (see article above), PAWS is working with Schiff Estate Services in Sacramento, California, to sell several of the valued items from the Amanda Blake Museum – making them available for the first time. Amanda Blake played "Miss Kitty" on the popular TV series Gunsmoke that ran from 1955-1975, though we knew her best as a cherished friend. The series and Miss Kitty have continued to find new fans through re-runs on regular and cable television.

Starting on Wednesday, February 8, Schiff Estate Services will begin selling many of the items that were on display in the museum, as well as a selection of Amanda’s personal items kept in storage. Framed art, honors and awards including Amanda’s 1977 Buffalo Bill Award bronze statue by artist Ted Long (below), the American Cancer Society Courage Award (pictured) signed and presented to Amanda by President Ronald Reagan, a wooden bench made by Milburn Stone, vintage western items, and photographs are among the items that will be offered.

All items will be on display and available for purchase starting February 8, at Schiff’s Estate Sale Building, located at 1309 Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento. Store hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Items will not be sold early and no prices will be quoted before the start of the sale. Purchases can be made in person, or over the phone by credit card, and can be shipped anywhere in the United States. Shipping costs vary by item and destination. Visit the Schiff's Estate Services website or call the Schiff Estate Sale Building at (916) 923-1443 for more information. Items will be sold on a first come, first served basis.

This antique embroidered silk vestment hung in the living room of Amanda's home in Phoenix, AZ. Copy of a photo of Amanda and husband Frank Gilbert in their living room is included with sale.

This is an original oil painting of bats by wildlife artist Charles Fracé. It was given to Amanda by her friend, author and television personality Roger Caras.

One of two Roger Tory Peterson signed and numbered prints that will be sold. Amanda's purchase receipt is included with each print. (Framing was done by PAWS)

In addition, PAWS will continue to list items from Amanda’s estate and the museum on eBay. New treasures are listed weekly. Click here to view the items currently up for bid.


All proceeds go to the care of the rescued and retired elephants, tigers, bears and other wild animals at PAWS’ ARK 2000 sanctuary. Thank you Amanda!

Mara: 33 Years at PAWS

African elephant Mara is the longest-term resident at PAWS, saved from a life in the circus. She arrived at our Galt sanctuary on January 23, 1990, joining another African elephant named “71.” They were the first elephants to be rescued by a sanctuary in the U.S., and the two remained companions until 71's death in 2008.

Mara is a high energy elephant who loves to push on trees, eat leafy branches, and dig deep holes to create mud wallows and dusting areas – just as wild elephants do. Mara spends her time with Thika, exploring and foraging in their large, hilly habitat at ARK 2000.

Czar could often be seen playfully rolling in the grass in his habitat.

PAWS Says Farewell to Tiger Czar

Czar was 17 years old when he and two other tigers arrived at PAWS in October 2019. Czar, Tessa and Mungar were in need of immediate placement when their previous home, southern California's Wildlife Waystation, permanently ceased operations. PAWS and other sanctuaries across the country stepped up to provide homes for a large number of animals that were displaced by the closure of this large facility.


Czar arrived well-adjusted, calm, and friendly. He actively explored his huge, grassy habitat and seemed to instantly feel right at home. Czar especially enjoyed water and would swim in one of his two pools multiple times daily, followed by rolling playfully in the grass. No matter the weather, he was almost always muddy from swimming and rolling. Caregiving staff were inspired by his youthful air, as he was delightfully spunky and playful for his age. 


Curious, outgoing, and friendly to other tigers, Czar would take daily walks along a shared fence line with his neighbor Falcor, and he seemed to especially love the companionship of his other neighbor Sawyer who passed away from cancer in 2022. Czar greeted caregivers and veterinary staff alike with a welcoming "chuff."

As an older tiger, Czar struggled with minor digestive issues and arthritis, and he received medications that kept him comfortable and healthy. In July 2022, during an anesthetized physical examination, PAWS’ veterinarians discovered a mass growing from the gums surrounding one of his canine teeth. Consultation with a board-certified veterinary dentist confirmed our worst fear. This was a type of cancer which would have required drastic surgery to remove not only the tooth, but also all of the bone and tissue surrounding it, with no guarantee of a cure.

At Czar's age, and with developing kidney disease (common in elderly cats), we decided not to put him through a drastic surgery and instead keep him comfortable for as much time as he had left. After this diagnosis, medications were adjusted to ensure his comfort and he did well for the next five months – swimming, rolling, and playful as always.  


In early December, it became suddenly clear that Czar's oral mass was affecting his quality of life. Medications and special care could no longer provide enough relief, so the very difficult but most compassionate decision was made to perform euthanasia to prevent suffering. Czar passed from this life at age of 20 on December 12, 2022, surrounded by many who loved and cared for him. We will always remember Czar for his optimism, his sweet personality, and his inner strength in the face of adversity. 


January Amazon Wish List Donors:

Peggy Buckner: one 2 lb. bag of almonds. Catherine: two 6.5 oz. bags of dried pineapple. Justin Reinheimer: one 2 lb. bag of almonds; one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Nancy Gordon: one bottle of AminiVast, 60#; one box of AA batteries, 24#. Barbara Affonso: one box of Denamarin, 30#. Jo Ann Mason: two 4 lb. bags of sunflower seeds. Marcia Pelka: one 2 lb. bag of sunflower seeds; one 4 lb. bag of almonds. Galen Hazelhofer: one bottle of AminAvast, 60#. Apurva and Chirag Yagnik: one 3 lb. bag of almonds; eight 4 lb. bags of almonds; eight 2 lb. bags of sunflower seeds; six 3 lb. bags of walnuts. Fran Coletti: two bottles of CosequinDS, 132#. Shawna Pilsi: one 2 lb. bag of almonds. Joyce Zee: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Lynn Bruser: one 10 lb. pail of Equithrive Classic Joint Pellets. Betina Williams: one box of AA batteries, 24#. Anonymous Donors: one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin & Coat.

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.

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P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632

(209) 745-2606


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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.


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 "Help Captive Tigers" 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.


EBAY Giving Works. Visit PAWS eBay page to view our current listings and to bid. List your 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 or buying!

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