Pat Derby, who trained beloved Hollywood animals "Lassie" and "Flipper," has died of throat cancer. She was 69.
Derby moved from England to the US at age 12, and reached her Hollywood goal in the 1960s and 70s, when she worked on the beloved show "Lassie" as well as trained animals on "Daktari" and "Gunsmoke," according to the Associated Press.
She was also the wrangler for Chauncey and Christopher, a pair of pumas who were famed for posing with Farrah Fawcett in commercials for the Mercury Cougar, the AP reported.
The trainer, who went on to become an animal rights activist, passed away at her home in San Andreas, California, outside Sacramento — fittingly, at one of the largest sanctuaries of her animal protection non-profit, Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the Associated Press reported.
Derby founded PAWS in 1984 after her long career working with show business animals exposed the mistreatment and abuse many of them suffered. The organization, which she founded with her longtime partner Ed Stewart, rescues animals from the exotic and performing animal trades and offers them sanctuary, Reuters reported.
PAWS now runs three sanctuaries, which house housed wolves, bears, lions, tigers and elephants, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The couple also pushed for a California law that set standards of living for animals in captivity, which was passed in the mid-1980s.
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