Pat Derby, Animal Trainer for 'Lassie' and 'Flipper' -- and Pioneering Hollywood Animal Rights Advocate -- Dies at 69 NY Times

Pat Derby, an animal trainer who worked on shows such as "Lassie" and "Flipper," has died, reports The New York Times. She was 69.

Derby, who died of cancer, was one of the earliest animal rights advocates to work on behalf of performing animals, including exotic species such as lions and monkeys.

In 1984 she founded the Performing Animals Welfare Society and opened her first sanctuary, outside Sacramento. Later, she opened a second one in San Andreas, Calif., which the article says has become a "sort of retirement community for more than 100 exotic animals, most of them former film or circus performers, survivors of roadside zoos and former pets whose owners could no longer handle them."

Derby trained animals for TV in the 1960s and 1970s, working on shows including "Gentle Ben," whose title character was a bear, and "Gunsmoke." She also worked on commercials in the 1970s, including one ad for Lincoln-Mercury that featured actress Farrah Fawcett with two cougars, the story adds.

After she published her 1976 memoir, "The Lady and Her Tiger," in which she revealed that neglect and abuse of animals was routine in Hollywood, she said work dried up. "I never ate lunch in that town again,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 1995, the story notes.


Pat Derby on her animal sanctuary