The biggest sanctuary area that PAWS has is called PAWS ARK 2000, and it is 2,300 acres in San Andreas, CA. Three African elephants, five Asian elephants, twenty-six tigers, six bears, and five lions live at PAWS ARK. Other animals that PAWS provides sanctuaries for include mountain lions, a leopard, a coyote, a serval, a bobcat, two lynxes, and a muntjac.
What PAWS tries to do at its sanctuaries is to make a space that is as much as possible like the animals' native habitat. There is plenty of grass and trees, and if an animal has special needs, such as having arthritis, there are areas designed just for them. The best part is that the animals don't have to be chained up or bred or sold or forced to perform. PAWS also tries to teach the entertainment industry and the general public about the humane treatment of captive wildlife.
PAWS was founded in 1984 by a woman named Pat Derby and her partner, Ed Stewart. Sadly, Ms. Derby died this past February from cancer. But she was a very brave champion for the rights of performing animals, and she inspired other people to feel the same way. There are more than thirty people who work at PAWS, and these include keepers, wildlife specialists, and veterinarians. They take very good care of the animals and try to give them healthy lives.
If you go to the PAWS website, you can learn a lot more about this organization, and you can read all about the animals that are there. You can also watch videos of them, and you can adopt one if you want to. Of course, if you adopt an animal, this doesn't mean that it comes and lives in your house. Which is good, because an elephant would take up a lot of space in your living room. What adopting an animal means is that you send a certain amount of money every year to help the sanctuary.
|Ella, a capuchin monkey|
I'm just going to tell you a few stories about animals that are living at the PAWS sanctuary, and if you want to read more, you can go to the website, like I said before.
The first one is Maggie the elephant, who was born in Zimbabwe. She was captured in 1981, after her mother was shot. At that time, people were culling the elephants so that there would be fewer of them to bother the people in villages. In 1983, Maggie went to the Alaska Zoo and got to be best friends with another elephant named Annabelle. After Annabelle died, Maggie was all alone. In fact, she was the only elephant in all of Alaska.
Some Alaskans felt sorry for Maggie, and they convinced the zoo board of directors to ship Maggie to a warmer place. So that's how she ended up living at PAWS in California. Now Maggie has two new friends, Mara and Lulu. Maggie likes to break the rules and get her way about everything, and everybody mostly always lets her do that because she bats her eyes and looks very charming and sweet.
Nelson Redford is a tiger who was born in 1996. He was one of two tigers that got taken away from a man who was breeding cubs to sell. Both of the tigers were in very bad shape, and they were practically starving to death. The other one, who was pregnant, died, but Nelson pulled through. He went to live at PAWS in 2003.
The black bear Boo Boo was born in a breeding facility. When he was only two weeks old, he was taken away from his mother and sold as a pet. The people who bought him put a chain around his neck, locked it, and then they lost the key. So they couldn't get the chain off, and after a while, it grew into Boo Boo's neck.
A woman who was worried about the bear bought him from his owners. She took him to the veterinarians at PAWS and paid to have them do surgery to remove the chain from Boo Boo's neck. After that, Boo Boo lived at the sanctuary, and when another black bear named Winston arrived there later, they became the best of friends, and they still are today.