The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center: For when you can't seem to find that bear in the wild
Heyo! Long time no post, but its 2019 now and we just left for part 2 of our road trip, so it's time to get some updates on here and catch everyone up on our doings. Where did we leave off? Oh yes, back in Alaska, 8,000 or so miles ago. Without further ado, let's get into it with a neat little stop in Alaska that is well worth the stop...
Before traveling up through the Yukon and Alaska, we heard that bears were everywhere. People reported seeing them constantly, often without even trying. Bears on the roadway, bears in campsites, bears on the trails. Having never seen a bear in the wild, we were pretty excited for this. Yet, somehow, we managed to make it all the way through the Yukon, Fairbanks, Anchorage, and the Kenai Peninsula without more than one fleeting bear sighting. On our way back up to Anchorage from the Kenai, we decided to ensure ourselves an amazing bear experience and stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Girdwood.
The AWCC is a self proclaimed sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska's wildlife through conservation, education, research, and quality animal care. They take in orphaned or injured animals and give them a lifetime of care. It's not constructed like any zoo you've been to. Each animal group has a large, natural habitat enclosed mostly by wire fencing and are encouraged to be themselves. They offer tours and drop in feeding times to get a better look at different animals, although we had no issue seeing the grand majority of them without it. To top it all off, it's only $15 to visit!
The center has a wide variety of animals, including brown and black bears, moose, reindeer/caribou, wolves, elk, deer, bison, etc. Although commercial photography is prohibited, you can capture some amazing close up photos for your personal collection. Check out our favorites from our visit!
This big guy right here wasn't having the best day when we arrived. He was in the middle of shedding his velvet and he was itchy and agitated. He was trying to rip the velvet off using the fencing of his enclosure, and was getting so aggravated that the staff decided to block off the more approachable sections of the enclosure and distract him with food. It seemed to work eventually, as he calmed down and we were able to get within a nice distance of him.
This was our favorite enclosure, of course; our main attraction. There were three brown/grizzly bears living in the enclosure; two females and a male. For those who don't know, the brown bear and grizzly bear are the same species, but the name differs based on their geographical location. Brown bears live near the coast, while grizzlies live inland. We were thrilled to get as close to the bears as we did. They were majestic and beautiful, with deep soulful eyes and claws that could slash you open in a heartbeat.
Of course, despite being alpha predators, they also have a goofy side that is probably rarely seen in nature. Luckily for us, one of the grizzlies was feeling like a real ham that day.
There were a few wolves at the sanctuary, and they put on a fun show for us. The pure white wolf kept trying to get the female to come down from atop the structure with playful actions, and more than once all the wolves joined in a howl.
Honestly, in a place like this, with so many cool animals and rescue stories, there just isn't enough space in a single blog post to capture the magic. I'd try, but it wouldn't do it justice. It's an awesome place. Trust me. Just go. You wont regret it. And this is coming from a person who hates zoos.
And because they were so hilarious, I saved the best for last. A mother and baby elk that were so incredibly angry. At what, we may never know...