Rescue. Advocacy. Sanctuary. For Life.
Since 1984

September 2020 | Newsletter

African Elephant Lulu and the
Transformational Power of Sanctuary!
You may have seen PAWS’ mid-month email which featured African elephant Lulu. Much to our surprise there was a huge response to the story of this special elephant, who, at age 54, is the oldest African elephant in North America. The email provided just a glimpse into Lulu’s background, so we thought you would enjoy reading more about her.
Lulu arrived at ARK 2000 from the San Francisco Zoo in 2005. It was only the second trip of her life. The first was after she was captured in Swaziland at age two and sold to the zoo. Her mother was likely killed in a cull, a traumatic event that Lulu surely would have witnessed. In a flash she had lost everything – her protective mother and tight-knit family, a dynamic life on the African savanna, and her freedom. (View a video of Lulu's arrival at the zoo in 1968 here.) 
At the zoo, Lulu was housed with Maybelle, with whom she would spend 34 years. PAWS’ co-founder, the late Pat Derby, wrote about their troubled relationship: “According to reports from keepers, Maybelle would hold Lulu down and prevent her from moving, push her out of the barn and into the moat, block her way to food and anything else that she wanted, precluding her ability to make any choice without the express permission of the older elephant.” (We can’t blame Maybelle for her behavior toward Lulu. She, too, had experienced her own harrowing capture and separation from her mother at age two.)
Lulu’s history made it a challenge to introduce her to the two African elephants at PAWS, 71 (now deceased) and Mara. When the other elephants approached, Lulu was almost paralyzed with fear and anxiety. She would display overly submissive behavior, literally crawling on the ground on her elbows and knees. This expression of her distress was both sad and alarming. However, Pat and PAWS President and Co-founder Ed Stewart provided constant attention and worked slowly but surely with Lulu until she could relax and feel comfortable with her new companions.
Above: African elephants Lulu, Maggie and Toka at ARK 2000.
Today Lulu confidently heads up her elephant group that includes Maggie and Toka. Together, they roam the hills of their expansive natural habitat, foraging on grass and trees, mudding and dusting themselves, socializing and exploring. To be clear, Lulu is not the matriarch, a word that is often misused. Matriarchs are the leaders of their family groups, generally the oldest and largest adult female who helps ensure the group’s survival through her long memory, social skills, courage and wisdom, especially in times of crisis.
Lulu may be the smallest African elephant at PAWS, but she’s made the biggest transformation of all. Her story demonstrates the power of true sanctuaries to rehabilitate captive wildlife into the magnificent animals they are by providing large and complex natural environments, loving care, and the freedom to make choices in their lives. We can never replace all that an elephant like Lulu has lost, but we can provide an enriching and safe place where she and other elephants can heal and thrive.
You can “adopt” Lulu for one year by clicking here, or donate for her lifelong care here.
PAWS Pushes Back:
Elephant Interactions Abroad
Are Definitely Not Okay!
Maybe a trip to Thailand or another Asian country is on your post-pandemic bucket list and you want to find an elephant experience that is “humane.” If there is one rule to follow, it’s that interactions with elephants – including rides, touching, bathing, and direct contact – are never humane. Unfortunately, the elephant tourism industry is working overtime to convince the traveling public otherwise.
Recently, PAWS wrote to Fodor’s Travel and the vegan media source LIVEKINDLY which claims to promote a compassionate lifestyle. Both companies had published articles about elephant tourism in Thailand. While the Fodor’s article blatantly regurgitated industry spin on tourist-elephant interactions, LIVEKINDLY’s attempt at a “balanced” story included naïve observations. For example, the author suggested that use of a bullhook could be “calming” for an elephant, when in fact the elephant is being dominated by this threatening device. Fodor’s did not respond to our letter, however, LIVEKINDLY responded that it “in no way supports or condones the torture or abuse of animals.” Yet that’s what their article does. A second communication and offer to help them develop a position statement on elephant tourism went unanswered.
Elephant tourism has been steadily growing, especially in Thailand, and it is a highly profitable business. To feed the industry, more and more elephants are being bred. The calves – some as young as three years old – are traumatically separated from their mothers and subjected to brutal training and a lifetime in captivity in poor conditions. World Animal Protection released current video of Asian elephant calves being cruelly “broken” and harshly trained for entertainment use in Thailand – evidence that these practices continue. Neither the Fodor’s nor the LIVEKINDLY article acknowledged the video.
Captive breeding does not serve any conservation purpose, nor does it make elephant tourism any more ethical or sustainable. (The COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down tourism, has demonstrated how quickly elephants can go from being a source of revenue to a serious financial burden.) In addition, calves are sometimes snatched from the wild for tourism, which threatens the survival of this highly endangered species.

Don’t be taken in by “standards” set by the elephant tourism industry and its supporters. These may address some of the abuses now, but in the long run they mainly will serve to protect industry interests and perpetuate money-making activities such as riding and bathing elephants. As long as these practices continue – and tourists are in direct contact with elephants – these animals will be subjected to inhumane measures to control them. As much as the industry may try to convince travelers that training methods have changed, they really haven’t. Elephants must be strictly controlled whenever tourists are around them.

There is no scientific evidence to show that elephant-tourist interactions are good for elephants. Recent studies promoted by the elephant tourism industry were conducted by researchers without animal welfare expertise and, due to inadequate methodologies, their conclusions are unreliable. The limitations of captive environments and the danger involved in tourist-elephant interactions make it clear that less interaction is needed to protect both elephants and tourists.

Of course, the best place to see elephants is in the wild. But if you’re set on a captive elephant experience, choose an observation-only facility with optimum care and welfare. These places offer settings in which elephants can engage in natural behaviors, with tourists respectfully watching from a distance. They also provide employment for mahouts and local people. Not all places that call themselves sanctuaries or rescue centers provide good welfare, so it’s a good idea to check World Animal Protection’s Elephant-Friendly Checklist of facilities in Thailand, Cambodia and Nepal.

Whether in Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia or India, elephant rides, performances (including “painting”), and interactions are something to avoid. Organizations such as World Animal Protection and Wildlife SOS (India) are campaigning to inform tourists and urge them to forego elephant rides and interactions. Only tourist demand for the more humane observation-only experiences will drive the tourism industry to change – this means you have the power to make a difference!

For more information, read World Animal Protection's report, "Elephants, Not Commodities. Taken for a Ride 2", with a forward by Jane Goodall. It's full of in-depth information on elephant tourism. Click here to read.
Ringling's Retired Circus Elephants
to Move to New Home in Florida
PAWS President Ed Stewart was quoted in a National Geographic article on the pending transfer of 30 Asian elephants from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to White Oak Conservation in Florida, where a 2,500-acre elephant facility is being created for them. The facility will greatly improve the welfare of these elephants who, for the first time in their lives, will be able to enjoy meadows, wetlands, and watering holes.
While acknowledging the vast improvement for the elephants, PAWS remains concerned that White Oak will engage in breeding at some point. Captive breeding does nothing to help conserve elephants in the wild. PAWS is joined in its concern by Dr. Joyce Poole, co-founder and co-director of ElephantVoices, who has studied free-living elephants for more than 40 years. She states: “I would prefer to hold judgement on whether this is really a ‘forever home’ sanctuary or a breeding facility. Either way, the Ringling Bros. elephants will be so much better off here than where they have spent their lives up to this point. . . If, however, this is really meant as a breeding facility to supply other zoos, with future offspring being shipped around like furniture, then this is a ruse, a way to mislead the public and a disservice to future generations of elephants.”
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is applauding the elephants’ transfer to White Oak’s sanctuary-like conditions, while at the same time it condones the confinement of elephants in small, outdated zoo exhibits that cannot provide the space or environmental complexity of a sanctuary or the White Oak facility. However, if this move opens the eyes of those in the zoo community to the need to do far better for captive elephants, that certainly is welcome.
We sincerely hope that the 30 elephants will find a permanent home at White Oak and that no breeding will take place. We also hope that the five elephants left behind (under White Oak's care) will be able to enjoy significant improvements to their lives. These elephants have been through so much during their time in the circus – they deserve a break.
PAWS Participates in Special Webinar on Captive Wildlife Sanctuaries
PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy Catherine Doyle, M.S., recently participated in a webinar hosted by The Whale Sanctuary Project (for which Catherine and PAWS President Ed Stewart serve on the advisory board), titled "Sanctuaries: A Global Movement for Urgent Times." The discussion included Noelle Almrud, Director of the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas, and Lori Marino, Founder and President of The Whale Sanctuary Project.
This interesting webinar explores the growing movement of captive wildlife sanctuaries as a compassionate response to the harms of traditional forms of captivity. Today there are permanent sanctuaries for elephants, primates, bears, big cats, and other animals – and now captive cetacean sanctuaries are joining the movement. You can watch the webinar here.
Above: Photograph of an elephant brain. Dr. Paul Manger/University of the Witwatersrand, JohannesburgCC BY-ND
The Neural Cruelty of Captivity
Bob Jacobs, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience at Colorado College – who has presented twice at PAWS’ International Captive Wildlife Conference and completely fascinated audiences each time with his studies of elephant and big cat brains – has published an important article, “The Neural Cruelty of Captivity: Keeping Large Mammals in Zoos and Aquariums Damages Their Brains.” In it, he describes (in layman’s terms) the impacts that living in an impoverished, stressful captive environment have on the function and structure of the brain. These changes have been documented in many species, including humans.

Dr. Jacobs questions the justifications for keeping wild animals captive, especially large mammals such as elephants and orcas. For animals who cannot be free, he states there are well-run sanctuaries for elephants and other large animals, with others being developed for captive cetaceans. He concludes: “There is strong evidence that enrichment, social contact and appropriate space in more natural habitats are necessary for long-lived animals with large brains such as elephants and cetaceans. Better conditions reduce disturbing stereotypical behaviors, improve connections in the brain, and trigger neurochemical changes that enhance learning and memory.”

You can read the article here.
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, high school or elementary 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. Available speakers are Catherine Doyle, M.S., Director of Science, Research and Advocacy, and Dr. Jackie Gai, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services. Contact Catherine at for more information. Speakers are provided at no charge.
Take Action on the Big Cat Public Safety Act
If you haven’t yet contacted your senators in Washington, DC, and asked them to become a co-sponsor of the Big Cat Public Safety Act (S. 2561), please take action now. The bill would prohibit the private ownership of big cats and stop public contact with these animals, including in cruel cub petting operations.
Click here to see a list of the bill’s co-sponsors. Click here to find your senators and their contact information.
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(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 September
Amazon Wish List Donors!
Monica Savage: one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#. Barbara Cromarty: one 8 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm. Patricia D. Adler: one 5 lb. bag of Well Blend Skin and Coat; one bottle Renal Essentials, 60#; one Probiocin; one 8 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm; one box of AA Batteries, 24#. Jeff Yee: five 20 lb. tubs of Psyllium. Sara L. Nickerson: one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#; one 10 lb. tub of Psyllium. Michelle Tester: two bottles of Renal Essentials, 60#; two 5 lb. tubs of Psyllium. Carole Bognar: three Probiocin. Joanne and Paul Osburn: 5 lbs. of Pumpkin Seeds; 5 lbs. of Almonds; 5 lbs. of Walnuts; two 10 lb. bags of Well Blend Skin and Coat; two bags of Greenies, 60#. Sarah Wornell: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Joyce E. Hadel: one 20 lb. tub of Psyllium; one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Anonymous Donors: one 5 lb. bag of Well Blend Skin and Coat; four cases of copy paper; three packs of AA Batteries, 48#; one bottle of AminAvast, 60#; one 5 lb. bag of Well Blend Skin and Coat.
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.