"Dollars for Dirt" for the Elephants!

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A nonprofit fundraiser supporting

Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)

Raising funds to buy truckloads of fresh dirt for PAWS' six elephants.


raised by 468 people

$75,000 goal


Give PAWS' six elephants the gift of dirt by making a donation to our "DOLLARS FOR DIRT" fund today!

PAWS spends thousands of dollars on dirt each year. That probably seems like an odd statement coming from an organization with a 2,300-acre sanctuary, but every month we bring in truckloads of a special loamy mix of sand and soil from the San Joaquin Valley for the six elephants living at our ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary in Northern California. Why? Because elephants love this dirt. They dust with it. They roll in it. They play in it. They sleep on it. PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, once described dirt as a "magic elixir" for elephants.

We regularly replenish the soil inside the elephant barns and dump piles of it outside in the habitats. Watch the video of Asian elephant Gypsy at the top of this page to witness the joy a simple pile of dirt can bring. She had just been given a bath outside of her barn and instead of heading back out into her habitat, Gypsy chose to come inside the barn where she knew a fresh pile of dirt had just been dumped into one of the stalls. She dusts and rolls and then finishes off with a "loofah" (aka street sweeper brush) treatment before heading back outside.

You can give a "gift of dirt" to PAWS' elephants by making a donation to our DOLLARS FOR DIRT fund today. One double truckload of dirt costs $700. Every donation, regardless of the dollar amount, is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about PAWS' six elephants.

BELOW: Asian elephant Gypsy was born in 1967 and spent most of her life performing in circuses before being retired to PAWS in 2007. Today she lives at PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas, California, where she has a heated barn and a 60-acre habitat of gently rolling hills, natural vegetation and a lake. At PAWS she is given the freedom to choose whether she wants to be inside her barn or outside in her habitat. Watch Gypsy's reaction when she finds a fresh pile of dirt in her habitat.

BELOW: Watch Asian bull elephant Prince's reaction when he finds a new pile of dirt in his barn at PAWS' ARK 2000 sanctuary!


The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) was formed in 1984 to rescue and care for abused, neglected or retired exotic and wild animals. PAWS operates the 2,300-acre ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary in Northern California, and cares for elephants, big cats, bears, and other wild and exotic species. PAWS actively advocates on behalf of captive wildlife, and educates the public about issues affecting these animals in captivity and in the wild. PAWS established the first elephant sanctuary in the U.S. in 1986. Since then, 19 elephants have found refuge at the sanctuary.


PAWS 2,300-acre ARK 2000 sanctuary is located in San Andreas, California. This natural habitat refuge is home to elephants, bears and big cats. It is almost entirely run on solar energy.

A dedicated team of highly trained and experienced caretakers, wildlife specialists and veterinary staff provide round-the-clock care for the animals. PAWS has its own veterinary wellness center, where our animals can receive on-site treatment.

The animals at PAWS have come from zoos, circuses, and private owners; many of them had been subjected to abusive conditions and treatment. To ensure they have the most natural, intrusion-free lives possible, PAWS’ ARK 2000 sanctuary is not open to the public, with the exception of a limited number of educational events each year. PAWS does not breed, sell, or rent its animals or make them perform.

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PAWS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Federal ID #  is 94-3005157. All gifts to PAWS are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Please consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of donated services. PAWS is rated a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator.

PAWS is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) and is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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