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Humans have a responsibility to treat animals well, but unfortunately, people do not always live up to this responsibility. In these cases, other humans need to step in to help. There are several organizations in existence dedicated to helping animals. Whether this takes the form of advocating for laws protecting them or creating homes for them, these groups make strides in relationships between humans and other animals. One such collective is the Performing Animal Welfare Society.
Founded in 1984 by former Hollywood animal trainer Pat Derby and Ed Stewart, the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) works to rescue and provide sanctuary for “animals who have been victims of the exotic and performing animal trades.” In addition, PAWS seeks to educate the public in the humane care and treatment of captive wildlife.
The Performing Animal Welfare Society points out that the term rescue often indicates a happy ending, but that, in fact, it requires ongoing care and dedication to care for their rescued animals. As such, they employ a team of compassionate keepers, wildlife specialists, and veterinarians who together provide 24/7 care.
PAWS’ ongoing dedication to the animals is also evident through the habitats the organization makes for them. The enclosures for the animals that find their way to a PAWS sanctuary are designed to be as close as possible to their natural habitat, and there are also specially designed areas for older, arthritic, or injured animals.
The Performing Animal Welfare Society operates three wildlife sanctuaries: one in Galt, CA, one in Herald, CA, and one in San Andreas, CA. These sanctuaries provide a place where the animals can live free from fear, chains, and harsh confinement.
PAWS’ first sanctuary was the 30-acre Galt refuge, which was also the first facility in the United States capable of caring for elephants. The Amanda Blake Wildlife Refuge in Herald provides a 75-acre home for species like emu, ostrich, and antelope. The refuge in San Andreas, ARK 2000, is the largest of the sanctuaries, with 2,300 acres dedicated to habitats for elephants, bears, and majestic big cats like tigers and lions.
The PAWS sanctuaries are not open to the public except for special events throughout the year, so as to ensure that the animals enjoy as natural and intrusion-free a habitat as possible. These events include open houses where you can visit the animal habitats, “Seeing the Elephant” educational weekend getaways, and the one-of-a-kind Elephant Grape Stomp.
About a half hour’s drive from the ARK 2000 sanctuary, you’ll discover a stunning lodge nestled in the Sierra Foothills. Courtwood Inn is a beautiful retreat, built with the environment in mind—it features energy efficient design, from the windows to the inherently good insulation provided by the log walls, and we even have an electric car charging station.
We grow fruit trees, herbs, and edible plants and vegetables in our garden, which we water with our onsite well. Once these are more established, we plan to use ingredients from our garden in our complimentary gourmet breakfasts. For now, we strive to use only the freshest locally sourced or organic ingredients available.
You’ll be closer to nature while still enjoying modern comforts during your stay at Courtwood Inn. The inn is secluded and looks out over spectacular sweeping panoramas of the San Joaquin Valley. Feel your stress melt away as you sip a glass of wine on your private balcony or soak in the luxurious Jason MicroSilk Hydrotherapy Tub.