A few weekends ago, my dad got our family tickets to go see the PAWS wildlife sanctuary in San Andreas, CA. I have been so excited to go check it out because I think it’s amazing what they are doing for large/exotic animals. Above you will see Ed Stewart who is one of the co-founders carrying the legacy of the sanctuary on for Pat Derby, his long time partner who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. They started this sanctuary to help animals who have been held captive for entertainment and if you check out their site, you can find out all about it. Some of the videos of the animals being released into their large areas of land at PAWS brought tears to my eyes because the animals were so used to being stuck in small cages for most of their lives.
I was so moved by our visit to PAWS, that I wanted to share ways that you can all help too if you want to do something for these beautiful animals but don’t know how to start.
1) You can make a donation via their site hosted by PayPal.
2) You can adopt one of these animals here and no that doesn’t mean you will be taking them home with you 🙂
3) You can plan a visit on one of their few open houses a year like we did (see below). The money for the ticket goes towards the upkeep of the animals.
To set expectations, this is not a zoo. It’s a place where the creators wanted the animals to live out the rest of their lives in a humane way. We were fortunate enough to see a lot of the animals but they won’t coax them out just for visitors.
They have very nice, air conditioned charter buses to get you around in-between the different stops. There are many acres of land for these animals so it’s not possible to walk.
Driving through the property was amazing, so many elephants roaming free.
This cutie was putting on a show!
This Asian bull elephant came right up to the gates as well.
The bull elephants have to have much stronger fence lines as they can be a bit more aggressive if they need to be. Keep in mind, they also came from circus’s and other places where they were mistreated.
Turkeys roaming the open roads between sanctuaries.
There were three female elephants we saw that were sharing a large enclosure. They don’t need as strong of fencing.
This is Prince rolling in the dirt. He’s an African bull elephant that hates people because of his life in the circus. I don’t blame him. It was so fun to watch him roam around.
I believe this pretty girl was Maggie. They were so sweet with Ed. He really knows these animals. One of the most interesting facts he told us was how they receive these elephants when they are traveling to the Arc 2000 (aka PAWS sanctuary). The air force helps transport these animals on C17’s in crates, takes a few cranes as well, and Ed explained how nervous he gets when flying with the animals. If anything is to go wrong during flight, the airplane would have to drop the crate to save the flight from a crash. The nerves you must experience while traveling with the elephants must be through the roof. Eventually, they land and with the help of some more cranes and semi-trucks, they are able to successfully transport the animals to Arc 2000.
One of the elephants had a very cute stance for such a large animal.
I was so mesmerized by these beautiful elephants and how relaxed they seemed. It was really touching to know they will now live their life where they won’t be kept inhumanely.
Although they deserve to live full lives in the wild, it’d be impossible to try to put them back in the wild now. They don’t have the necessary survival skills. Seeing Arc 2000 though made me happy to know that someone cares enough for these animals to devote their lives to trying to give them a better life. If you feel the same way and want to help, check out the links about 🙂