Pat Derby, the woman who trained Lassie and Flipper for the big and small screen has died, aged 69.

The English-born animal expert and activist passed away on Friday (15Feb13) from complications related to throat cancer at the California animal sanctuary she co-founded.

After becoming disillusioned with what she regarded as inhumane treatment of performance animals, Derby quit as a movie trainer and went on to set up the Performing Animals Welfare Society.

Together with her partner Ed Stewart, she fought for a law introducing standards for animals in captivity, and she spent much of her life lobbying for a ban on elephants in circuses and fairs.