Saturday, September 11, 2010

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

September 11. Just 20 minutes or so from the Alyeska Resort is a pretty cool place, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. A teammate of mine in the 2005 Midnight Sun Marathon had actually come here then and told me about it. It's primary purposes are to provide a haven for rescued wildlife and to have a breeding and research herd for the threatened wood bison, which I think is North America's largest land mammal. It is very rare, found in one area of Alaska and in parts of Northern Canada. They also have some breeding stock of musk oxen, which are rare in Alaska. Along the way, they take in badly needed money - it takes a lot of cabbage to run a place like this -

and provide education by opening the center to the public. Here are some photos of some of the major megafauna they have, all found somewhere in Alaska.

This bull elk had his harem all to himself. He bugled at times to make sure all other bulls knew he was the king, and also wanted to mix it up with a large musk ox in the next pen, who seemed very willing to oblige!
Musk oxen look almost prehistoric, don't they? I'd never seen this animal and would love to see one in the wild.

This four month old calf was so cute. She was kept in a separate pen because she was an orphan found in the wild, and would not be accepted by the herd.

This big bull caribou had a large pen to roam in, along with some pals:

Plains bison (buffalo) are found in small numbers in Alaska:

The wood bison is larger than its cousin from the plains, and is very rare throughout its range. One of the primary purposes of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is to provide a breeding herd for this threatened species:

What are the differences between a plains bison and a wood bison? I am glad that you asked!

Would you want to be this close to a grizzly in the wild? Me neither! A big front end loader dropped a big quantity of strawberries and grapes over the fence, and the three resident bears delicately picked them out of the water to eat. They favored the grapes over the berries.

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