Rescue. Advocacy. Sanctuary. For Life.
Since 1984

March 2022 | Newsletter
Above: PAWS' rescued tiger Nimmo.
The Secret Behind Tigers' Orange Coloring
The tiger habitats at ARK 2000 are designed with the tigers in mind, so they feature an abundance of trees, shrubbery, grass, and other native vegetation. This provides a more natural and stimulating environment as well as privacy for these naturally elusive big cats. When passing by the habitats you may sometimes spot a tiger – like Rosemary and Morris (above) – but at other times they’re harder to find. When you do see a tiger, the bright orange color of their fur clearly stands out.
Tigers are ambush predators and they rely on invisibility in order to catch prey. Their black stripes make sense as they can blend into foliage and changes in light and shadow. But doesn’t that vivid orange color blow their cover? The answer has to do with how prey animals see tigers – which is very different from the way we perceive them.
Humans have what is called trichromatic color vision. Our eyes use two types of photoreceptor cells to see: rods and cones. Rods sense differences in light and dark. Cones register color. Humans have three cones: blue, green, and red. This allows us to see these colors and combinations of them. Great apes and monkeys also have trichromatic vision, as do marsupials. Birds and goldfish (and probably other fish) have four color cones.
Most mammals, including tigers, have dichromatic vision. This means they have only two cones: blue and green. Therefore, they cannot distinguish between red and green shades. In humans, this is known as color deficiency or “color blindness.”
What does dichromatic vision have to do with helping tigers catch their prey? The mammals they prey on, such as deer and boar, also have dichromatic vision. This means they see the tigers’ orange coloring as shades of green, making it harder to detect the big cats and allowing tigers to better camouflage themselves in the forest. This gives tigers a greater chance of successfully securing a meal.
Above: These images simulate how we see tigers (right) and how prey animals see them (left), demonstrating the striking effectiveness of tiger coloration and the camouflage it provides. Photos courtesy of Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Now imagine a white tiger – a rarity in nature that is the result of a genetic mutation. Without their orange-hued fur, these tigers have no camouflage and would be unable to successfully catch prey to survive. White tigers in captivity are produced through inbreeding, which often results in serious genetic abnormalities and lifelong health problems. Despite this, white tigers are exploited as a novelty in zoos, circuses, magic acts, and roadside attractions. Regardless of what unscrupulous exhibitors might tell you, tigers with this rare coat coloration have absolutely no conservation value, meaning they do not help save wild tiger populations.
Because both tigers and their prey cannot differentiate between orange and green, there is no evolutionary pressure for deer, for example, to develop green fur to better hide from a tiger or other predator. In fact, there are no mammals with green fur (sloths sometimes appear green, but the color is due to alga growing in their fur). So, expect nature to stay the course – and let’s consider ourselves lucky that we are able to see tigers’ distinctive colors as we do.
(This article is based on a study by Fennell et al. (2019) that appeared in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.)
Sawyer the Tiger Battles Cancer
The health and welfare of the animals we care for at PAWS is always our top priority. Our caregivers and veterinary team regularly monitor the animals so we can immediately respond to any health concerns and provide necessary treatment and care.
In late fall of 2021, caregivers noticed a growth inside tiger Sawyer's right ear canal. It didn't seem to be bothering her but it was slowly getting larger, so PAWS' veterinarians performed surgery to remove it in early November. Biopsy confirmed that Sawyer's mass was melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Although every attempt was made to completely remove all of the mass, a few cells remained and the ear mass recurred several weeks later.
Above: Members of Sawyer's healthcare team perform a comprehensive examination, including treatment of her ear, lymph node biopsies, ultrasound imaging, vaccination, and other therapeutic treatments. Left to right: Jennifer Glavis, DVM (PAWS Staff), Jenessa Gjeltema, DVM (UC Davis Zoological Medicine), Kristen Sears, RVT (UC Davis VMTH Oncology Supervisor), Kirk Stafford, RVT (PAWS Volunteer), Lynn Dowling, RVT (PAWS Staff), and Jackie Gai, DVM (PAWS Staff).
A second procedure was performed in February with the assistance of veterinarians from the University of California-Davis, including oncology specialists. We discovered that the ear mass could not be removed this time because it had changed in both shape and location, now much deeper inside Sawyer's ear canal. Melanoma in many species tends to be aggressive, spreading throughout the body and often leading to a shortened lifespan. Regional lymph nodes were biopsied, and no evidence of metastatic spread to other parts of the body was found at this time, although it is possible that it will still spread.
When veterinary oncologists told us about a vaccine that is being used to extend lifespan in dogs diagnosed with melanoma, we were anxious to try it. PAWS Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Gai spoke with colleagues who have used the vaccine with a number of tigers with the same type of cancer, without any adverse effects. Sawyer has received two doses of the vaccine so far, of an initial planned series of four. Our veterinarians are also considering treatment options, including radiation therapy and palliative care.

Tiger caregivers, veterinary staff, and sanctuary management are all integrally involved in decisions about Sawyer's care. We are always guided by balancing potential risks and outcomes with what is best for her. Our goal is to keep Sawyer comfortable and to preserve her feeling of safety and security, as well as her overall well-being. 
On the positive side, Sawyer remains in good spirits. She is active and playful, and she seems quite comfortable. Please keep Sawyer in your thoughts and know that we are doing everything possible to keep her healthy and happy.

If you would like to contribute to Sawyer's care, please click on the donation button below.
Celebrating African Elephant Lulu!
This month marks 17 years since African elephant Lulu arrived at PAWS from the San Francisco Zoo. At age 56, she is the oldest living African elephant in North America. Lulu was born in the wild in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and captured when she was about two years old and sold into captivity. Today, she shares a spacious natural habitat at the ARK 2000 sanctuary with companion Toka – where the two of them are often found foraging side by side. It is an honor and a privilege to care for this special elephant and all of the wild animals at PAWS!
PAWS Welcomes UC Davis Students
On a beautiful, sunny Saturday in February, PAWS welcomed 63 students from the University of California-Davis at ARK 2000. Led by Dr. Lynette Hart, the students are enrolled in a course called Human-Animal Interactions, which covers topics such as animal-related legislation, societal views of animals, and the effects of animals on human health. The class also allows students to explore options for careers involving animals. This visit marks the 35th time that Dr. Hart has brought her class to PAWS, and she tells us that our tour is always a student favorite!
The tour was led by PAWS Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Jackie Gai, Sanctuary Manager Brian Busta, and COO Chris Draper, PhD. Students observed the bears, tigers, and elephants in their habitats and learned about health and welfare issues involving captive wildlife. Every animal living at our sanctuary has a story, and some of the most impactful lessons are conveyed through the circumstances that brought these animals into captivity, and ultimately to find permanent sanctuary at PAWS.
By the end of the day, the students gained a deeper understanding of how the sanctuary serves our animal residents and how PAWS works on behalf of wildlife everywhere. The students asked thoughtful questions, and there were many lively discussions. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting this great group of students!
Victory for Captive Wildlife!
This month, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law a bill prohibiting public contact with certain captive wild animals, including lions, tigers, snow leopards, jaguars, cougars, and any hybrids of these big cats, and bears. The bill, which had bipartisan support, was authored by Rep. Dave Abbott and carried in the Senate by Sen. Blake Doriot. PAWS provided written expert testimony for the bill.
The Indiana law will end the exploitation of bear and big-cat cubs by roadside attractions that sell cub handling and photo opportunities to the public. This cruel practice rips newborn babies from their mothers so they can be handled by the public. The cubs are often deprived of rest and subjected to constant handling and abuse. Once the cubs are too old to be handled – and therefore unprofitable – they are dumped at decrepit roadside zoos, sold to private owners, or they simply "disappear." And the whole cycle begins again.
You can help end the private ownership of big cats and their use in cub petting operations by supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act. The bill has been assigned to committees in the House and Senate, however it has yet to be heard. Click here for information on contacting your elected officials.
Dates Set for PAWS International Captive Wildlife Conference 2022!

Save the date! The PAWS International Captive Wildlife Conference will take place November 11-12, 2022, in Sacramento, California, with an optional visit to the ARK 2000 sanctuary in nearby San Andreas on November 13. We are lining up an array of exceptional speakers for this in-person conference that will address issues involving big cats, cetaceans, elephants, and more. Stay tuned for more information!
March Amazon Wish List Donors:
Jorja Fox: one bag of dried papaya; one bag of dried pineapple; one bag of Pill Pockets, 60#. Hannah (age 6), Hunter (age 8) and Christopher D. Houston: two bags of dried pineapple. J.D.: one 3.3 lb. pail of Equithrive Joint Pellets. Jane: two 3.3 lb. pails of Equithrive Joint Pellets. Rob Lambert: one bottle of AminAvast, 60#; one 8 lb. pail of Manna Pro flax seed. Jocelyn and Michael Swinnie: one 3.3 lb. pail of Equithrive Joint Pellets. Maryann Farmer: one 8 lb. pail of Manna Pro flax seed. Marsha Pelka: one bag of dried papaya; one bag of dried pineapple; one bag of walnuts. Marisa Landsberg: one bottle of AminAvast, 60#; one 12.5 lb. box of popcorn kernels; one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#; one 8 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm. Lynn Bruser: one 3.3 lb. pail of Equithrive Joint Pellets. Valerie Marini: two 8 oz. bottles of Eicosaderm; one bag of dried papaya; three bags of Pill Pockets, 60#. Lisa Klotz: Lauren Barger: one 8 lb. pail of Manna Pro flax seed; one 12.5 box of popcorn kernels. Beverly: five bags of dried pineapple. Sherry Piatt: four bags of walnuts. Cary L. Dier: one bag of dried papaya; one 12.5 lb. box of popcorn kernels. Anonymous Donors: one bag of pumpkin seeds; three 8 lb. pails of Manna Pro flax seed; four bags of dried papaya; four bags of almonds; three Denamarin, 30#; three bottles of CosequinDS, 132#.
We have chosen specific items that are needed at the sanctuary, which you can purchase directly from Amazon. We have an ongoing need for many of the products listed. Click here to review the items and donate. You can also review “wish list” items that are needed but not listed on Amazon. Click here for that list.
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P. O. Box 849, Galt, CA 95632
(209) 745-2606
Rescued tiger Czar in his habitat at ARK 2000.
PAWS provides lifetime care to the tigers, bears, elephants, and other animals who call our sanctuaries home. Your kind support provides expert daily care, necessary veterinary treatments, and specialized nutritional support, all tailored to the individual needs of each animal. Your gifts make this excellent care possible.
There are many ways
you can help PAWS animals:
Donate. Although we work closely with regulatory agencies on animal rescues, PAWS receives no government funding and must rely on your donations to continue our work. When you make a contribution for the wild animals at PAWS, it is unlike any other. How many people can say they’ve gifted elephants with spacious rolling hills and a more natural life, or made a present of a lush, tree-filled habitat for a tiger? Or given a bear a new chance at life? And you ensure we are prepared for the next wild animal in dire need of rescue. Three ways to give and every donation matters. Learn more
PAWS is proud of its 4-star rating with Charity Navigator - the highest rating possible. We are part of an elite group of charities with an "exceptional" designation (at least four consecutive years of 4-star ratings), meaning that your gift will have the greatest impact possible. CharityWatch gives PAWS an "A" rating.
Give to one of PAWS' ongoing MightyCause campaigns: Our "Dollars for Dirt" or "Give BIG for PAWS' Elephants" fundraisers for the elephants, or our "Support a Rescued Tiger" fundraiser to benefit the rescued tigers living at our ARK 2000 sanctuary.
Adopt A PAWS Animal. If you would like to help our animals, one of the best ways is to become an "adoptive parent," or give a PAWS adoption as a gift to an animal lover in your life. PAWS adoptions are symbolic adoptions only. No animal will be sent! Learn more
PAWS Partnerships. Help us change the life of a victim of captivity by becoming a PAWS Partner. PAWS partnerships help support our sanctuary operations and the day-to-day care of the animals. Learn more
Estates/Planned Giving. You can help us make sure captive wildlife in need of shelter will always have a PAWS sanctuary to call home! Learn more
Corporate Donations and Matching Fund Programs. Learn more about what is needed.
Purchase PAWS apparel and merchandise. Clothing for adults, kids, toddlers and infants, as well as other fun merchandise like notecards and coffee mugs - available from our CafePress online gift shop.

PAWS Amazon Wish List. We have chosen specific items that are needed at the sanctuary, which you can purchase directly from Amazon. Many items are ongoing. The list is always current! View here, and shop using AmazonSmile.
EBAY Giving Works. List items on EBAY and choose PAWS as your charity. Donate a percentage of each sale to the animals. Visit our EBAY charity listing page here. Start selling!
Shop online through IGive and raise money for PAWS! Up to 26% of your purchase - at more than 1,600 retailers - can be donated to PAWS. Learn more
Donate Your Vehicle To PAWS. Learn more
Attend A Fundraiser. PAWS sanctuaries ARE NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC but we do schedule a limited number of special events throughout the year. Click here to view PAWS' Calendar of Events. Due to COVID-19 concerns, all PAWS' events have been cancelled until further notice. Thank you for your understanding.