Ark 2000, the beautiful gate into the PAWS sanctuary, is a fitting icon for a place that is rescuing animals. This non-profit sanctuary has 100’s of acres of freedom for “discarded” circus animals to retire to the peace and serenity of the land.  Good food, no more tortuous routines at the whip or pick. Restful and good.
There are fences, to be sure, but nothing like the cages of their past. These three Bengal tigers, though hard to photograph through the fencing, play and growl at each other in a friendly way while we watch  from a safe distance.

This old female Bengal yawned on the warm sunny hillside as though to affirm, life here is good.

Richly colored coats of tigers in Calaveras County are so out of place, and beautiful. The lion habitat, nearby, has a huge maned male who couldn’t keep his eyes off the females. They are separated since PAWS is not a zoo. They don’t encourage offspring. The lions and bears managed to  keep clear of the fencing and were not interested in photographers

And at each area, the food and wine are plentiful and delicious. Here Jan Hovey pours Hovey Wine. Steve Hovey has been making wine for over 20 years and is now proudly presenting his expertise under his own name.

This female  Asian elephant has a missing toe on one hind leg and a deformed ankle from long years on a chain. She seemed so happy and comfortable. And it is a cheering sight to see her free at last.

Man’s inhumanity to man is nothing compared to what humans do to animals. This, of course, is not the worst of it. She happily nudges and scratches her trunk on the fencing. Some trees in the sanctuary have steel posts around them to protect them from being pushed over by the pachyderms.

At first the sanctuary did not take in bull elephants. They can be dangerous and are unbelievably strong. They had to increase the fence strength for bulls and now they have two.

At the final buffet and auction area, near the African and Asian elephant barns, we visitors enjoyed dozens of different wines. A wine glass comes with your ticket and you carry it from kiosk to kiosk. Here Margot Osborn pours Chatom wines.

Irish has  Pog Mo Thoin, which is Irish for a mixture of whatever is left over. Well, sort of. It has three varietals and was quite tasty at that.

This marvelous dish of pesto flavored broiled tomatoes with mozarella was stellar, but the caterers, Jeff Newland and ll Fornaio,  prepared pumpkin ravioli to die for.  Of course, the whole luncheon is vegetarian. I keep promising myself to commit to becoming a vegetarian. Living on the road as much as Jim and I do makes it a harder fit.

At the parking lot, is a recycled old derelict put to good use. It reminds us not to stay over long. PAWS, the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary has a program where families can visit. This event was adults only. They are very protective of their charges and the employees know them by their names and can identify one from another. They have pictures of the animals with their names and can tell you stories of their muddled past. A great project that we in Calaveras County enjoy along with out of town visitors.

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