In Memoriam: PAWS Bids Farewell to Paka Serval and Cinnamon Bear
Animal Stories from


PAWS Performing Animal Welfare Society
September 2017

We are saddened to share the news that two of our older, long-term sanctuary residents have passed away. Although both were considered elderly, and lived a good long life with us, it is always hard to say goodbye to animals that have been such a big part of our daily lives.


serval Paka

Paka came to live at PAWS' Galt sanctuary in 2000 as a young cat. She had been relinquished anonymously to an animal shelter in Santa Clara, California, by someone who claimed to have found her running along a busy freeway. In reality, she was most likely someone's illegal pet. She arrived at PAWS malnourished, loaded with parasites, and most tragically, had been declawed on all four feet.

Paka flourished at PAWS with a nutritious diet, expert care, and a habitat with grass, trees, and structures to climb on. Small but feisty wild cats, servals are naturally found throughout wetlands and savannah areas in Africa where they hunt prey by hiding in tall grass and leaping into the air to snatch birds in flight. Paka could often be found stalking bugs or anything that moved, and she was also fond of curling up inside a large straw-filled tub (above) for a nap. One of her favorite people was our co-founder, the late Pat Derby, who would speak gently and affectionately to Paka, causing her to drool (a sure sign of pleasure!) and rub her head along the fence in response.

Paka succumbed to kidney failure on August 11th, after a brief illness. She was a beloved member of the PAWS family and we will miss her beautiful face and spitfire personality. She was estimated to be 17 years old.


bear Cinnamon

Cinnamon, a female black bear, came to PAWS in 2003 along with three other bears, Sampson, Oma, and Scarface (now deceased). The four bears had been confiscated by authorities and were housed temporarily at the Houston SPCA before coming to PAWS. Prior to their removal, all four bears were part of a small, drive-through roadside exhibit where they lived in horrendous conditions. The owner of the dilapidated facility was cited for numerous violations and the animals were impounded. Cinnamon had been declawed by her previous owner, a travesty considering that bears use their claws in a variety of natural, essential activities such as climbing, digging, and ripping bark off of logs to find bugs and worms.

Cinnamon had a special affinity for Sampson. After the bears' move in 2011 from the Galt sanctuary to ARK 2000, the two bears shared a large, oak forested enclosure in the Bob Barker Bear Habitat. Bears enjoy water, and Cinnamon and Sampson had their very own, custom-built swimming pool, which she especially enjoyed on hot summer days. Another of Cinnamon's favorite activities was to forage for acorns that naturally drop from the trees during the fall.

Cinnamon was appropriately named, with a gorgeous copper-red coat. Black bears can naturally have variety of different coat colors, from jet black to reddish brown and to almost blonde. Cinnamon made up for her smaller physical stature with her spunky, confident energy. She especially enjoyed curling up for a nap in a thick bed of pine needles under a tree.

Cinnamon began showing early signs of arthritis in 2013, with some stiffness in her legs. PAWS' dedicated keeper staff made sure that she received special medications and nutritional supplements to support her joints and to provide comfort as her arthritis gradually became more severe. She remained active, exploring her habitat with Sampson, until early summer of this year when she suddenly had great difficulty standing and walking. An examination by PAWS' veterinarians, and X-rays reviewed by a veterinary radiologist, confirmed that her entire spine was affected by severe arthritis that had caused damage to her spinal cord.

After heroic efforts to ease discomfort and restore Cinnamon's mobility, it became clear that she would never be able to walk again. Keeping in mind Cinnamon's well-being and quality of life, the incredibly difficult, but most humane decision was made to gently euthanize her to prevent future suffering. Cinnamon passed from this life on July 27, 2017, at the age of 21 years, surrounded by many who loved her. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and cared for her.

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