Saturday, January 14, 2012


PAWS saddened by loss of gentle giant Sabu,
our oldest Asian bull elephant

Today, I am sad to learn about the loss of one of PAWS elephants.

However, after years of performing he at least could enjoy the freedom to roam at PAWS in the Sierra Foothills, free to enjoy the company of his half-brother Nicholas and the other PAWS elephants during his last years.

As you know, I have been planning a great photo opportunity in March 2-4, 2012 to visit the elephants at PAWS and it is not too late to sign up for a full day at PAWS "Seeing the Elephants" [click link for details].  Besides this being a great opportunity to experience the remaining 8 elephants roaming freely in the Sierra Foothills, it is also a fundraiser for PAWS, an organization that I fully support.

Please give me a call at 650-326-4570 or email at to get more information or sign up.
[Registration deadline January 25, 2012]

January 13, 2012

PAWS saddened by loss of gentle giant Sabu,
our oldest Asian bull elephant

In Memoriam
Sabu: 11/1/82 to 1/11/12

San Andreas, CA - On Wednesday, January 11, 2012, Sabu, PAWS' 29-year-old Asian bull elephant, succumbed to the effects of severe arthritis in multiple joints. We will miss this gentle giant.

Born November 1, 1982, at Portland Zoo, Sabu was transferred to a circus in 1984, and then retired to PAWS' ARK 2000 Sanctuary in September 2010. Here Sabu joined Nicholas, PAWS' youngest bull elephant, also retired from a circus, and half brother to Sabu.

The two bulls were fathered by Tunga, an Asian bull at Portland Zoo. Tunga was transferred to a circus facility after Sabu was born, and later sired Nicholas at that facility. Both Nicholas and Sabu performed in circuses when they were two years old. Nicholas was retired to PAWS when he was 13 years old, the first bull elephant at the ARK 2000 Sanctuary. Sabu, PAWS' second bull, arrived when Nicholas was 17. The two boys were close enough to see and communicate.

"It almost appeared that they knew they were related," Pat Derby, one of PAWS founders, commented. "It was obvious that they were communicating, although humans never hear the low frequency sounds that elephants use to gather information."

PAWS has keepers on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Pat Derby and Ed Stewart, PAWS directors who live on the property, were immediately alerted by the night keeper who was with Sabu when his giant body collapsed in his large dirt sleeping stall at approximately 3:30 on the morning of January 11. PAWS' veterinarian, Dr. Gai, and elephant supervisor Brian Busta, arrived shortly after Pat and Ed, and all agreed that efforts to lift him to a standing posture would be stressful, and his condition indicated that he would be unable to remain standing.

Sabu was beloved by all who worked with him. He was described by Brian Busta, as a "big, beautiful boy who was gentle, very intelligent and a best friend."
A team of pathologists from the University of California Davis conducted Sabu's necropsy and preliminary results were reported as "severe arthritis in multiple joints."

Dr. Gai stated, "The degree of severity is what I would expect to see in a 50+ year old captive Asian. I think we were all surprised to see arthritis like this in someone so relatively young."

Tuy Hoa, Sabu's maternal grandmother at Portland Zoo, was reported to have died "very young from crippling arthritis."

Nancy Burnet, Director of Bob Barker's DJ&T Foundation which funded Sabu's barn, pool and habitat, wrote to Sabu's keepers, "The bigger tragedy would have been if he'd never made it to PAWS - you were Sabu's angels. . . Your constant love and kindness created a wonderful bond. . . How wonderful it worked out so that he spent his last year at PAWS, luxuriating in the relief his pond provided, and moving about freely."

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The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) is a nonprofit, captive wildlife protection

To see all workshops and photo travel opportunities 
offered by M. Raeder - Photography, please click here.