Last Saturday D. and I went to the open house at the Performing Animal Welfare Society in Galt. Ever since I first heard about this organization I've wanted to visit, but I never knew they held open houses until recently, so in spite of the dauntingly long drive there I was excited to go.
PAWS began by rescuing exploited and mistreated animals in the entertainment industry, but now they have more animals rescued from backyard breeders and drug dealers. There is a huge black market for exotic animals, and it is heartbreaking how mistreated they are -- botched declawing procedures, malnourishment and starvation, grossly unsanitary conditions, inbreeding, etc. It made my blood boil to hear of the horrible conditions from which most of these creatures were rescued. At least they can now live their lives in peace and safety, well cared for by staff and volunteers who put the animals' health and well-being above all else.
To be honest, it was a little disappointing to see the actual facility, because the animals were all inside chain-link fencing. It didn't make for the most stunning photographs, but I took a few anyway. It was obvious that the place was designed to house the animals comfortably, not to showcase them in a fancy way. After thinking about it, I feel it's best that way, not to exploit the animals any further by putting them on display in flashy (i.e., expensive) "habitats." They're not performers; they don't have their worth linked to their entertainment appeal. They are left in peace to just be themselves, even if that means sleeping all day long. More power to them!
Here's a few pics I took (most weren't all that great due to the chain-link fencing everywhere).
One of a pair of stone lions guarding the entrance to the sanctuary's office.
Real ones awaited us inside.
Here's a cheetah statue, almost engulfed by greenery in the overgrown garden outside the office.
Here's Roy. He's cross-eyed from inbreeding. He's pretty friendly. He winked at me (I winked back).
Here's Sheba, trying to beat the 90º heat.
My cat does the same thing on hot days.
There were other animals there -- bears, more tigers and lions, a leopard, a mountain lion, a macaque, a bunch of capuchins, a couple of bobcats, and a housecat that just decided to hang around the place. PAWS has a separate sanctuary elsewhere for their elephants and over 30 tigers. I doubt we'll make the long trip to that facility, but I'm sure the animals are as well cared-for there as there are here.