A few weeks ago while my little sister was in town, my husband and I finally toured the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Portage. We've seen many moose, a lynx, and a few bears since moving to Anchorage, but we hadn't come across any wandering around town after more than a week into her visit.
|Here is Snickers. There is a second porcupine at the Center named Kit Kat.|
I had read about the AWCC while we were still living in Utah and was particularly looking forward to seeing one of its resident porcupines named Snickers. (Porcupines were a rare and especially enjoyable sighting during my years working in Yellowstone, and I've harbored a fondness for them ever since.) We were not disappointed upon actually seeing little Snickers with his bright orange teeth. By no means were the bears, moose, elk, deer, bison, musk oxen, lynx, caribou or birds a let down either.
|One of two bull moose lounging adjacent to the perimeter fence. The rut had begun so we kept a safe distance.|
|a close up of his antlers|
|a bull elk starting to lose his velvet|
To be honest, seeing animals in captivity often leaves me a bit saddened. Knowing those living at the center have been rescued and are cared for due to injury, becoming orphaned at a young age, human ignorance/stupidity (keeping a porcupette found in the forest as a pet for toddlers, for example) and other reasons made this visit considerably less depressing. Additionally, many of the animals living at the AWCC reside in large fenced areas where they can wander and live in the most natural setting possible. Although the enclosures are not nearly the size of their natural range or migration routes used in the wild, reconciling the difficulty in seeing animals in captivity when their inherent wildness is what draws us to such a place, I try to see the benefits gained by research, conservation and education. The staff offer talks while feeding or caring for specific animals throughout the day. They include why individual animals live at the center in their chat along with specific information about that particular animal's observed behaviors. Thankfully, they also offer an opportunity to ask questions.
|Oh, Hi bear.|
It was a lovely day for the drive down from Anchorage to see so many beautiful animals and the surrounding landscape. We all three had big grins on our faces as we walked and drove around the center. My face actually hurt from smiling after viewing three bears together in one enclosure. One of them swam and frolicked in the water while another paced along the fence line which was roughly fifteen feet away from sightseers. It was magnificent and joyful scrutiny on our part.
My sister did eventually see two moose in town - a young bull and a cow. That sighting was also a treat.
|Tori and me being goofy toward the end of our day at the AWCC.|