Injured and orphaned animals have a home at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC). Located about an hour south of Anchorage in Portage, Alaska, the Center provides a refuge for animals who would have little chance of survival in the Alaskan wilderness. A wide variety of animals are at AWCC including wood bison, bears, moose, elk, muskox, porcupines and caribou. Some animals will eventually be re-introduced to the wild, while others will live at the refuge permanently.
My heart went out to some of the animals as some of the stories are sad. A four-month-old baby muskox, Mukluk, was found alone, scared and hungry near the oilfields in Deadhorse, Alaska. Mukluk was two-months-old when she was found and had been separated from her herd. Her mother had made the ultimate sacrifice by saving Mukluk from a hungry grizzly bear. While Mukluk’s story is tragic, she now has a chance at survival and can join a herd when older.
Adonis, an injured bald eagle, has been a resident of AWCC since 1995. Adonis lost a wing in a hunting accident and cannot fly. He is now a local celebrity who had a bit part in a movie and is fed a diet of salmon steak daily. He seemed to be used to attention from visitors.
The Center is located on 150 acres and tries to keep wild animals in their native habitats as much as possible. For instance, the bear pen is 18 acres and the largest in the United States.
Each area is well-marked so that visitors can learn about the specific animal. Visitors can either walk or drive through the grounds. Although the grounds are large, some of the animals come right up to the fences and it’s amazing to be so close to a wild animal.
Admission to AWCC is $10.00 per person. When entering the refuge, visitors will be warned not to feed or touch any animals, or climb over any fences (!!). One downside of AWCC is that they are located in the wilderness and the only way to visit is to rent a car. The experience, however, is worth the drive.
If you are visiting Anchorage, I highly recommend a side visit to the AWCC. This organization is dedicated to caring for nature’s less fortunate animals and giving them a future.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Mile 79, Seward Highway
Girdwood, Alaska 99587