SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A former Hollywood animal trainer who trained Flipper and Lassie and later devoted her life to protecting performing animals after seeing widespread abuse in the entertainment industry has died.
The Performing Animal Welfare Society says Pat Derby died Friday at her Northern California home at age 69. She had throat cancer. Derby co-founded the sanctuary and activist organization.
She often served as the public face and voice for performing animals, and in recent years fought primarily to get elephants out of circuses and zoos and into three sanctuaries.
Derby wrote in an autobiography that while working on television shows like "Flipper," ''Lassie" and "Daktari" in the 1970s she developed training methods involving love and trust. But she was shocked by the rampant neglect and abuse she saw among other trainers.