Duchess Digest: Visiting the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
By Jill Brown
If a trip to Anchorage, Alaska is in your plans for this year, I highly recommend taking the time to visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This non-profit organization is located about forty-five minutes outside of Anchorage, at the end of the Turnagain Arm between the small ski town of Girdwood and the Alaska Marine Highway stopping town, Whittier. The center was founded to help preserve Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education and quality animal care.
They offer a variety of educational experiences while you visit the center, and it’s your one-stop-shop (so to speak) to see almost every kind of important indigenous Alaskan wildlife. They have moose, musk ox (a personal favorite), elk, caribou, eagles (both rescued and wild eagles that have become aware of the bear’s feeding schedule and like to poach fish) and yes, even really cute brown bears. They have lent their animals to filming when Hollywood has come calling (INTO THE WILD, ring a bell?) and also take on important conservation work – like their massive project to raise and re-introduce wood bison to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Bet you didn’t know that wood bison are native to Alaska? I sure didn’t!
I recently had the opportunity to visit the center for the first time with a friend in town from Los Angeles. We were enjoying some unusually warm, and typical wet, weather one Sunday afternoon and decided to go see what the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center was all about. The good news was it was like having our own private tour due to the wet, gray weather. The bad news was, well, the weather was just cold enough to be penetrating and just warm enough to be wet. But the other good news (always a silver lining) is the warm weather had stirred the groggy brown coastal bears from their hibernation. While we only saw two of the three bears that live at AWCC, these two siblings, J.B. and Patron, were so incredible that I can’t imagine having had the experience any other way. It was feeding time and they were hamming it up for fish; and we reaped all the benefit of a private show with these amazing creatures.
You’ll learn a lot, you’ll see a lot, and your entrance fee will help a lot. It’s definitely worth a trip – so please make sure a visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is on your to-do list when visiting Anchorage this summer.
Jill Brown is an Anchorage, Alaska based writer and blogger. She earned her Bachelors in Humanities and Sociology from USU and is the founder of “The Duchess Guide” a website dedicated to sharing the ups and downs of life in Alaska. For more on The Duchess Guide or Jill visit: http://theduchessguide.com/
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