This week we visited an addition to growing number of properties belonging
to an organization called "PAWS", the Performing Animal Welfare
Society. This 2300-acre sanctuary near San Andreas is home to a handful
of elephants and 17 tigers, with more on the way. PAWS is internationally
recognized as a leader in animal welfare - dedicated to the rescue of
performing and exotic animals from cruel confinement.
At the sanctuary we met up with Pat Derby, and discovered her love affair
with animals blossomed in her first career in Hollywood, where she worked
as a trainer on popular TV shows like "Flipper" and "Daktari".
Seeing animals captive and caged spurred her to become an activist and
with partner Ed Stewart she founded "PAWS" in 1984.
Today PAWS takes in all sorts of four-legged refugees from traveling
animal acts and other venues
and after twenty years, Pat's convictions
have only grown stronger.
Of course, tigers and elephants having the run of the Gold Country wouldn't
sit well with its human inhabitants, so the PAWS ranch is safely surrounded
by sturdy fences, but the goal here is to keep this habitat as natural
as possible and that means growing native plants, so the elephants eat
the same foods they would in Africa. Today the property is a work in progress
and Pat hopes it will inspire others to follow her lead.
In an effort to keep the animals in the most natural habitat as possible
both PAWS sites are not open to the public. But visitors are welcome at
the PAWS Amanda Blake Memorial Wildlife Refuge and Museum southeast of
Sacramento in Rancho Seco Park. For years, Amanda Blake of the TV show
"Gunsmoke" was a strong supporter of the PAWS effort.
For more information on PAWS call: (209) 745-2606