My Elephant Life or Extraordinary People Devoting Their Lives to Elephants

Remembering Elephant Conservationist Pat Derby of PAWS on 7 June, Her Birthday : Great Elephant People

“She didn’t just talk about it, she made it happen.  I can understand why God would want her by Him but we miss her so!”*

The late Pat Derby became a voice for elephants when it was unheard of to expose the exploitation and suffering of captive wild animals. Pat Derby stood by our elephants back when the public had no knowledge of the cruelty captive elephants endured in circuses and on Hollywood sets for film and TV. As a former “exotic animal trainer”** for the entertainment industry in California Pat became aware of “the dark side of animal training in the entertainment industry”** and chose the path of good over greed, unlike so many others.

Pat Derby and Ed Stewart, Great Elephant People, became stewards for abused elephants creating PAWS, in 1984, as a sanctuary for them (& other abused captive wildlife). The Performing Animals Welfare Society continues to serve as her legacy today.

And on this day, her birthday, 7 June (1943), we remember the late Pat Derby, a great elephant person, elephant advocate & elephant conservationist. The following is transcribed verbatim from “IT HAD TO BEGIN WITH ELEPHANTS. . . PAWS remembers Pat Derby (1943-2013)”


Ed Stewart: “She is probably one of the smallest babies in the United States right now and about half the size she should be.”

Pat Derby: (bending down & talking to elephant safely behind barrier) (unintelligible) …munchkin! “Oh boy, more water!”

PD: (to camera) “I am so excited I am like a mother about to have a baby, I’ll tell you.”  (Pat to woman: “You know what? I think it would be good if you shot on ahead…)


Narrator: “Pat Derby of Galt CA is preparing for a new member of the family. It is a baby elephant. The little orphan is named, simply, Number 71. She is seen here in footage shot about a year ago in a privately owned elephant herd in Florida. 71 was smaller than the rest of the elephants and very sickly. She could not keep up with the rest of the group. Pat was asked to rescue 71 from the herd and take her home to California. If it were not for Pat, the four-year-old African elephant probably would not have lived to see her fifth birthday.”

PD: “She is a little survivor. What happens is she gets her strength when she is taken out of the herd and she is at the veterinary hospital. They get her beefed up. Then they try to put her back into the herd and the stress of of maintaining the the speed of the herd and keeping up with them, she gets debilitated and weak again and she is back and forth. And of course, the ultimate consideration would be that someday the stress would kill her.

Pat (talking to the little elephant in a trailer) “71 you are going to have to back out. Hey, munchkin. Oh boy! Aren’t you terrific. There she is. Oooh boy!”

PD: “For 71, her future, uh, the most that we could hope for her is that she is able to live a fairly happy life uh, and be comfortable. We do know she will never do tricks, and uh, we hope that as far as possible that we can just allow her to to live and behave as an elephant.”


PD (interview) “I think Ed and I both have always had a particular affinity for elephants and also, uh, by studying elephants in captivity, we have discovered that probably the most abused of all the captive animals are elephants. And we decided a long time ago that that would be probably be our main focus. Elephants are extremely intelligent. They are also very large and I think that they bring out a need to dominate in in particularly small people. (laughs) And they… the training itself is is a misconception. Many people believe that in order to control an animal this large it needs to be taught that humans are stronger and more intelligent. And I think that is the beginning of the cruelty.”

“In memory of Pat Derby June 7, 1943 – February 15, 2013”

(Music: Here Comes the Sun) Montage of Pat, Ed and the elephants their rescued elephants at PAWS sanctuary.


Image: Creative Commons: by USAF Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown, Pat Derby with sanctuary elephants including Maggie at PAWS


(Pat Derby to camera, then looking out towards the rolling hills of her elephant sanctuary & her elephants enjoying their life) “I have never seen anything that excites me more. Just look at that. I mean, it is just incredible. Mara  is in the trees. Ruby is on a big stick pile and Maggie is moving down the hill. And my precious sweet Lulu who just came to us so frightened and terrified… And now she is leading the way down to the lake and tossing trees and throwing sticks… What a glorious, glorious thing to see.”

“The Nation’s First Elephant Sanctuary. PAWS – Performing Animals Welfare Society Founded in 1984. Protection. Education. Advocacy. Sanctuary.




Donate to continue Pat Derby’s legacy to help elephants at PAWS


Images:  Creative Commons:  Pat Derby walking with her African elephant, named 71, who is all grown up &                USAF by Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown: Pat Derby with sanctuary elephants including Maggie at PAWS

*Comment by Debra young on “IT HAD TO BEGIN WITH ELEPHANTS. . . PAWS remembers Pat Derby (1943-2013)”

**Quotes from ESH intro, from “PAWS Remembers Pat Derby” text in description box of YouTube video ” IT HAD TO BEGIN WITH ELEPHANTS. . . PAWS remembers Pat Derby (1943-2013)”


Image: Creative Commons : Pat Derby walking with her African elephant, named 71, who is all grown up


Pat Derby wiki ( 7 June 1942 – 15 February 2013 )

PAWS facebook

Elephant Spoken Here facebook

One thought on “Remembering Elephant Conservationist Pat Derby of PAWS on 7 June, Her Birthday : Great Elephant People

  1. Pingback: Remembering Elephant Conservationist Dame Daphne Sheldrick on 4 June, Her Birthday : Great Elephant People | Elephant Spoken Here

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