Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)

About our NGO partner

Founded in 1984, the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) rescues and cares for abused, neglected, and retired captive wildlife from circuses, zoos, and the exotic “pet” trade.

PAWS’ 2,300-acre ARK 2000 sanctuary, set amid the rolling hills of California’s Gold Country, currently provides a lifetime home for elephants, big cats, and bears. The animals enjoy a private, safe haven where they roam expansive natural habitats filled with native vegetation, shady oak trees, and refreshing lakes and pools. Surrounded by the peace and quiet of nature, they can just be their wild selves.

Animal welfare is the number one priority, with a team of dedicated caregivers and veterinarians looking after the animals’ well-being and an on-site veterinary clinic for healthcare. The animals are cared for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and treated with respect and love. As a true sanctuary, PAWS does not buy, sell, breed, or trade animals or make them perform.

To ensure the animals have the most natural, intrusion-free lives possible, the sanctuary is not open to the public except for a limited number of educational events. PAWS also works to end the exploitation of captive wildlife through advocacy, protective legislation, and education.

The Performing Animals Welfare Society is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and a member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance. It is rated a four-star charity NGO by Charity Navigator and has an “A” rating from CharityWatch.

Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS)

A word from the PAWS co-founder

“Providing sanctuary care for elephants, big cats, and bears instils a special appreciation for these highly complex and sentient animals. It strengthens our resolve to see them living free in their wild homelands for generations to come. We all need to cherish and protect wild animals, no matter where they are found. This means stopping the exploitation of wild animals for entertainment, ending the captive wildlife trade, and protecting natural habitats.”

— Ed Stewart, President and Co-founder, Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)