Thanks to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), numerous animals have found compassion, love, and freedom from abuse. Many of the animals once lived in chains. Others were rescued from the exotic animal trade industry. Some were forced to perform then abandoned when they no longer seemed "useful" to their owners. Living in California, I'm fortunate enough to have visited the original sanctuary on a couple occasions. My father has volunteered for PAWS and had the opportunity to see these beautiful and majestic animals up close.
This link http://www.pawsweb.org/index.html will lead you to their wonderfully informative site. You can read about PAWS history and see the fascinating animals who now call the sanctuary home. There are virtual tours and a list of times when the sanctuaries are open to the public. I watched the video "Maggie's migration to PAWS" with tears. After 20 years of being the only elephant in a small Alaska zoo, she was free to roam about the sanctuary and be with other elephants for the very first time. They welcomed her with "trunk kisses." Well, perhaps that is not the official term, but it appeared that way to me.
I have nothing but admiration for Pat and Ed, the founders of PAWS. For over 20 years they have selflessly dedicated themselves to providing a safe haven to these beautiful animals.