2014 Was Another Good Year For PAWS
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS)
December 2014

As we approach the New Year, PAWS reflects on the memorable events and key accomplishments that took place in 2014 and made our 30th anniversary year so special. We look forward to achieving even more great things for captive wild animals in 2015, with your involvement and generous support.

elephants Lulu Maggie


PAWS hosted California Assemblyman Frank Bigelow and Supervisor Cliff Edson of the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors at our ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary. They saw first-hand the good work that PAWS does for captive wildlife and learned more about our programs.


PAWS president Ed Stewart was featured in an article on elephant intelligence in the Scientific American, "The Science Is In: Elephants Are Even Smarter Than We Realized," which described the exceptional cognitive capabilities of elephants, such as empathy, a sense of self, cooperative problem solving, and mourning their dead. But more importantly, the article questioned how we can justify keeping these very complex beings in captivity.

PAWS took an active role in the fight against the sale of elephant ivory in the U.S. In

February we joined forces with animal protection and conservation organizations around the world in providing testimony in support of bans in Hawaii, New York and New Jersey. The New York and New Jersey bans were later passed into law.

PAWS marked the one-year anniversary of the passing of our co-founder and friend Pat Derby (right). We remembered Pat's fearless advocacy for captive wild animals and her big dreams that became reality, such as the creation of PAWS' ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary for captive wildlife and passing laws to better protect performing animals. Pat's presence is very much with us in all that we do for the animals.


Success! PAWS' hard work paid off when the San Diego County Fair announced it would not have elephant rides this year. Ed Stewart stated, "Elephant rides promote nothing but disrespect for elephants at a time when we need to get serious about saving them in the wild."

Ed Stewart was among a group of elephant experts invited to attend a meeting at the Longleat Safari Park in England to discuss the future of Anne, an abused circus elephant retired to the park with the support of the public and animal protection organizations. PAWS is pleased to learn that the zoo has acted on suggested improvements for Anne's enclosure. The zoo reports that she will soon be moving into a new barn that includes a soft soil floor for the arthritic 60-year-old elephant. Improvements to the outdoor area are in progress. Click here to read Ed's account of the meeting and issues surrounding Anne's situation in his article, "When Sanctuary Is Not A Sanctuary", in PAWS' March 2014 newsletter.

PAWS made national headlines for its recognition of the Los Angeles Shriners for canceling its traditional circus and going animal-free for the first time in 88 years. The Shrine Circus had been the target of protests for years due to the use of performing elephants, elephant rides and tigers.

PAWS participated in the first-ever Global March for Lions in Los Angeles. PAWS' director of science, research and advocacy, Catherine Doyle (right), was a featured speaker at the event, which aimed to bring attention to the plight of lions in captivity and in the wild, with a special focus on the abhorrent practice of raising lions for canned hunts in South Africa where they are shot point-blank in a contained area. PAWS was the first to investigate canned hunts in California and initiated the 1992 law that ended the practice in the state.


Canada's premier investigative news magazine program, "The Fifth Estate", returned to PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary for an update on elephants Iringa, Toka and Thika. Journalist Bob McKeown and "The Fifth Estate's" investigative team had documented the elephants' trip from the Toronto Zoo to PAWS in October 2013. Click here to watch "After the Cameras Went Away." (Video may not be available in all areas.)

PAWS' attending veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Gai, gave a special presentation titled, "Welfare of Captive Wildlife: Past, Present and Future", at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's 20th Annual Wildlife and Aquatic Animal Medicine Club Symposium. Dr. Gai discussed the roots of animal welfare in zoos, current welfare topics, and the important role that veterinarians can and should play in defining and ensuring animal welfare.


Vicki Fishlock, resident scientist for the Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP) in Kenya, and Betsy Swart, the U.S. executive director of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE), visited the ARK 2000 wildlife sanctuary. Vicki and Betsy work under world renowned scientist Dr. Cynthia Moss, founder and director of AERP and ATE, who heads the longest running study of wild elephants ever undertaken. PAWS helps fund ATE's anti-poaching efforts at the Amboseli National Park, providing greater protections for the elephants there.

PAWS joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for the official signing of the city's bullhook ban into law. PAWS worked for two years on the ban, which was unanimously passed by the City Council in October 2013. Los Angeles is the largest U.S. city with an ordinance restricting the bullhook, a cruel weapon resembling a fireplace poker that is used to inflict pain and instill fear in elephants so they perform on cue. The ban goes into effect on January 1, 2017.


PAWS commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the largest big cat rescue in U.S. history, when we saved 39 tigers from a pseudo-sanctuary in Colton, California, where they had been kept in intolerable conditions. Many were sick, injured and barely alive. A specially designed habitat at ARK 2000 allowed the big cats to walk on grass for the first time, hide in dense brush, play in pools and lounge beneath shady trees. You can view a documentary film about this historic rescue, "39 Tigers," by William Nimmo, founder of Tigers in America, here.

PAWS testified before a Rhode Island House of Representatives committee in support of a bill to ban the use of bullhooks. As a result, the House passed a resolution that urges circuses and other traveling shows to abandon use of the bullhook and "other harmful training practices" on elephants. Rhode Island is the first state in the nation to express concern about the treatment of elephants in circuses, an important step toward a statewide law.

After the appearance of the Asian elephant Roxie on "The Tonight Show," PAWS and some of Hollywood's most ardent elephant advocates sent a letter to host Jimmy Fallon, urging him to end the use of all wild animals on the show. The celebrities included television legend Bob Barker, Academy Award-winning actress Kim Basinger, "True Blood's" Kristen Bauer van Straten, "CSI's" Jorja Fox, Ross McCall from "Band of Brothers," and actress and comedienne Lily Tomlin. Media coverage of the letter helped to educate the public about the suffering of wild animals used in "entertainment."


PAWS is proud to have contributed to the successful campaign to free Sunder the elephant in India. Sunder was the subject of worldwide attention due to his deplorable condition that included malnourishment and severe leg injuries due to tight shackles lined with spikes. He now lives at the Bannerghatta Biological Park, with 13 other elephants. PAWS has long been involved in issues concerning the welfare of both captive and wild elephants. In 1999, Ed Stewart made the first of many trips to India where he met with Minister Maneka Gandhi, Department of Forestry officials and biologists regarding the treatment of captive elephants in southern India. PAWS was one of the first U.S. animal protection organizations to spotlight problems affecting captive elephants in Asia.

The late Pat Derby was recognized at the 2014 Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles, where Ed Stewart spoke about Pat's life and groundbreaking work for captive exotic and wild animals. He described the important legacy that Pat has left in her field of animal advocacy work - from the creation of PAWS' 2300-acre natural habitat sanctuary, ARK 2000, to legislation that continues to protect the welfare of captive wildlife today.

PAWS made the news again in a story that raised serious questions about the death of African elephant Joy (aka Joni) while in transit from the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado. PAWS also contested the Greenville Zoo's portrayal of Joy as "elderly," even though she was only 44 years old - an age at which elephants in the wild would be in their prime. "It is simply wrong to say that Joni or any other elephant in her 40s is geriatric or elderly," explained Ed Stewart. "The truth is that captivity has physically debilitated these elephants to the point where they suffer maladies normally associated with old age." Read the Greenville News story here.


PAWS actively supported two key bills passed in New York State: a law that banned the sale of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhinoceros horns, which aims to stop the illegal trade that is driving these species toward extinction; and a ban on public contact with captive big cats, effectively shutting down dubious operations that provide tiger and lion cubs for photo opportunities and interactive sessions that put the public and the animals at risk. We also supported the ban on ivory and rhino horns passed in New Jersey.


PAWS' director of science, research and advocacy, Catherine Doyle, delivered a lecture titled "Elephants and Questions of Captivity" at the National Museum of Animals and Society in Los Angeles and the University of Redlands in California. This year, Catherine's essay on elephants appeared in "The Ethics of Captivity," (ed. Lori Gruen) published by the Oxford University Press.


PAWS participated in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, marching in San Francisco and Los Angeles to raise awareness of the slaughter of these magnificent animals for the illegal wildlife trade and the need for worldwide action. Joining PAWS at the San Francisco march was Academy Award-winning actress Kim Basinger, who marched alongside Ed Stewart, carrying the PAWS banner along the event route. PAWS also proudly marched with Betsy Swart, U.S. executive director of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE) in Kenya, which aims to ensure the long-term conservation and welfare of Africa's elephants. In Los Angeles, Catherine Doyle represented PAWS, addressing event participants at a rousing post-march rally.

African elephants Iringa, Toka and Thika celebrated their one-year anniversary at PAWS. They continue to enjoy the moderate California weather that allows them year-round access to a large, natural habitat where they actively explore and forage daily, generally doing what elephants should be doing. [See Toka, Thika and Iringa In Their New Home.]

Asian elephant Nicholas became the first "Mr. Tuskany" at the PAWS' annual "Elephant Grape Stomp: An Afternoon in Tuskany" fundraising event. Prior to the event, people cast their votes for a favorite elephant by donating $5 per vote. Until this year, the winners were always female.


PAWS capped its 30th anniversary year with two outstanding successes: The PAWS International Captive Wildlife Conference and our 30th Anniversary Gala that celebrated three decades of rescue, sanctuary, education and advocacy for captive wild anmials. More than 400 people attended the gala, which featured celebrity friends, gourmet vegan fare, exciting entertainment, and many touching moments. The PAWS International Captive Wildlife Conference, which was dedicated to the late Pat Derby, was the largest conference ever held by PAWS, drawing 500 attendees over three days and featuring more than 50 experts from around the world. Topics covered a range of key issues affecting captive exotic animals, from orcas to elephants. Attendees hailed from Canada, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and 24 states in the U.S. Feedback from conference attendees was overwhelmingly positive, with many people calling it the best conference they had ever attended. Click here to read more about these exciting events!

As if this month wasn't busy enough, PAWS participated in two important animal conferences: Ed Stewart was a featured speaker and Catherine Doyle shared her research on keeper-elephant relationships at the human-animal studies conference, "All Things Great and Small," held at the University of California at Davis. And at a symposium presented by the Detroit Zoo's Center for Zoo Animal Welfare, Catherine spoke on Ed's behalf on a panel discussion on zoo and sanctuary leadership in championing animal welfare. Ed is a member of the Center for Zoo Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, which is composed of zoo and aquarium professionals, scientists, sociologists and animal advocacy leaders.


PAWS played an instrumental role in passing a ban on bullhooks in Oakland, California. The bullhook is a menacing weapon commonly used in circuses and still used in some backward zoos to control elephants. Oakland is the second major U.S. city to pass such an ordinance. The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to enact a bullhook ban in 2013. PAWS has long campaigned to "Ban the Bullhook!" and looks forward to more important victories for elephants and other performing wild animals.

Return to Animal Rights Articles