Making a Difference

Saturday, September 11, 2010

PAWS - Performing Animal Welfare Society

Who would have thought I'd hang out with an Asian bull elephant, 4 Asian female elephants and 4 African female elephants, five Lions and something like 30 Bengal Tigers in the Sierra Foothills near San Andreas, California. Well, I did and the experience was magical. These animals had all had miserable lives before coming to this idyllic setting not too far from the Calaveras County Airport (KCPU). Nicholas the bull elephant and Gypsy, one of the Asian females had been forced to live together, in a 15 by 15 foot cell, when not being forced to perform in a circus. To think of the 10,000 pound, 11 foot tall Nicholas being forced to peddle a tricycle brings tears to my eyes. Anger wells up inside me at the circus workers and owners who inflicted the jabs and beatings that left scars on his skin and unimaginable injuries to his mind and spirit.

But, fortunately for Nicholas, Gypsy and the others, they will now live out their lives in peaceful and humane conditions at PAWS, the Performing Animal Welfare Society's captive wildlife sanctuary; a place where abandoned, abused, or retired performing animals and victims of the exotic animal trade can live in peace and dignity. For more than twenty years PAWS has been at the forefront of efforts to rescue and provide appropriate, humane sanctuary for animals who have been the victims of the exotic and performing animal trades. PAWS investigates reports of abused performing and exotic animals, documents cruelty and assists in investigations and prosecutions by regulatory agencies to alleviate the suffering of captive wildlife.
Founded in 1984, by former Hollywood animal trainer and author, Pat Derby, and her partner, Ed Stewart, PAWS maintains three sanctuaries for captive wildlife - 30 acres in Galt, California, 100 acres (The Amanda Blake Wildlife Refuge) in Herald, California and 2,300 acres of pristine, natural habitat (ARK 2000) in San Andreas, California.