“It is with much heartache that I post the following information!”
” R.I.P – Pat Derby – June 7th 1943 – 15 February 2013 – PAWS Sanctuary”
“My condolences to all her family & friends. I’m sure the animals, who’s home became the ARK…will greatly miss her too…especially the elephants!”
During her early career in Hollywood, Pat Derby tamed tigers and coached cougars. After a breakthrough book, she co-founded a world- renowned sanctuary and proved to be circus elephants’ best friend.
Derby, 69, died Friday night at her San Andreas home at ARK 2000, a 2,300acre refuge she created for elephants, tigers and other exotic animals – most of them circus or movie veterans.
The animal trainer turned activist had been diagnosed with throat cancer in July 2010. After remission, the cancer returned last fall, but Derby kept her illness private.
Derby served as PAWS president and tireless advocate. PAWS will continue under Stewart’s leadership, according to an official statement from the nonprofit organization.
A celebration of Derby’s life will be held at a later date.
“Pat Derby was a partner, leader, mentor, teacher and friend,” the statement added. “She was the first to champion the cause of performing animals, and today, because of her tireless work and fierce determination, most animal protection organizations now have captive wildlife programs that address the issues of performing animals.”
More than 36 years ago, Derby began her crusade while working with captive wildlife as a Hollywood animal trainer. She handled Chauncey and Christopher, Lincoln Mercury‘s famous “Sign of the Cat” cougars, and worked with animals for such TV shows as “Gunsmoke,” “Lassie,” “Daktari” and “Flipper.”
But Derby also witnessed widespread abuse and neglect of performing animals. That prompted her to write the 1976 best-seller, “The Lady and Her Tiger,” which launched her crusade.
In 1984, Derby and Stewart co-founded PAWS and opened a wildlife sanctuary in Galt the following year. PAWS became the first U.S. elephant sanctuary.
Today, PAWS operates three Northern California sanctuaries, including ARK 2000 in San Andreas. The refuges are home to eight elephants and more than 100 other exotic animals.
“Initially we did a lot of protesting, and peaceful leafleting, educating the public about animals in circuses,” Derby told The Bee in 2001. “I really believe the public gets it now.”
“It had to begin with elephants.
I was born in love with all elephants:
not for a reason that I know,
not because of any of their individual qualities,
– wisdom, kindness, power, grace, patience, loyalty –
but for what they are altogether, for their entire elephantness.”
Patricia B. Derby
June 7, 1943- February 15, 2013
Our hearts are broken.
Pat Derby died peacefully last night in her home at ARK 2000. Ed Stewart, her partner of 37 years, was by her side.
Diagnosed with throat cancer in July of 2010, she fought her way through radiation and chemotherapy and continued to deal with side effects from treatment, including anemia. In early fall of last year came the news that cancer had returned.
Pat and Ed chose to keep this last fight a private matter. We honored their wishes.
It’s impossible for any of us to imagine life without Pat Derby – PAWS without Pat Derby – but she chose, and trained, her support team well, and under the leadership of Ed Stewart, Pat’s dreams and visions will be kept alive, her advocacy for animals will continue and PAWS will move forward.
We’ll miss her fire, determination and fearlessness; her intelligence and her passion.
We’ll miss her sense of humor.
Pat Derby was a partner, leader, mentor, teacher and friend. She was the first to champion the cause of performing animals, and today, because of her work and her fierce determination, most animal protection organizations have captive wildlife programs that address the issues of performing animals.
Pat chose a life for herself that was not for the timid.
She built ARK 2000.
Rest in peace dear friend.
Uploaded on 25 Feb 2007
The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) http://www.pawsweb.org is a non-profit organization that rescues and provides sanctuary to abused and abandoned animals. PAWS has garnered international recognition for it’s work with captive elephants. PAWS is located in Galt and San Andreas California