Pat Derby

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Pat Derby (June 7, 1942 - February 15, 2013) was a British-born American animal trainer for American television series during the 1960s and 1970s and later became a crusader for animal rights.[1]

Early years[edit]

Born Patricia Bysshe Shelley in Sussex, England, her father Charles was a professor of English literature[2] at Cambridge University[1] who claimed to be a descendant of Percy Bysshe Shelley.[2] As a child she often begged her father to take her to the circus to see the elephants.[1]

At age 15 she moved to New York City to study ballet and theater. She also enrolled at Columbia University,[1] but dropped out at age 19 to move to California.[2] While performing at a San Francisco nightclub she met animal trainer Ted Derby, and they married in 1964.[1]


The couple trained wild animals for television shows and movies, using "affection methods" that avoided causing pain for the animal.[1] But Pat disagreed with Ted's use of an electric cattle prod in training, and they divorced in the mid-1970s.[1]

Derby trained animals for the CBS television series Lassie, Gentle Ben and Daktari and the NBC series Flipper.[2] She also worked on the Lincoln-Mercury ad campaign that featured Farrah Fawcett with two cougars in the 1970s.[2]

In 1976 Derby was working with Christopher, her cougar who appeared in Lincoln-Mercury commercials, at the Cleveland auto show when she met Ed Stewart.[1] She and Stewart founded the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in 1984.[2] Derby's 1976 book The Lady and Her Tiger was a harsh expose of the entertainment industry's treatment of animals, and PAWS became a leading advocate for better treatment of animals in captivity.[1] PAWS first animal sanctuary encompassed 30 acres outside Galt, California, and was the first in the United States capable of caring for elephants.[2]

Derby died at her home in San Andreas, California following a long battle with throat cancer.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mai-Duc, Christine. (February 20, 2013). Pat Derby dies at 70; rescuer of exotic and performing animals. The Los Angeles Times: retrieved 2/22/2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Vitello, Paul. (2013, February 22). Pat Derby, 69, Champion of Animal Welfare. The New York Times, p B13.