Whether it's through a classroom session at the soon-to-be-completed Bison Hall, a hands-on experience feeding a moose, or the always popular cruise around its 200-acre habitat, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) in Portage offers visitors numerous, and creative ways to engage with and learn about Alaska's wildlife.
With more than 250,000 visitors each year and a multitude of adopted animals to care for, AWCC is always busy and focused on quality – for its animals, guests and partners. That includes Alyeska, a longtime supporter that shares AWCC's dedication to respecting and protecting Alaska's environment and wildlife.
Patti Altom, Alyeska's Senior Communications Assistant, said Alyeska appreciates the impact that supporting organizations like AWCC can have on the state, its wildlife and environment.
"If you love animals, AWCC is a great place to visit," Altom said. "Not only do you get to see most animals found in Alaska, but the center provides a vast amount of information to better educate visitors about the different species."
Altom added, "And the work AWCC and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game did to bring back the wood bison population, which had disappeared from Alaska and feared extinct, was outstanding."
AWCC's conservation program takes care of various animals, each with a unique story of how they ended up at the center. For example, Snickers and Kit are two porcupines that were abandoned and injured; Kobuk the black bear cub was brought to the center after he was found near Valdez, apart from its mother and relying on food from the dumpsters.
AWCC has even reached out to animals in need from other states: Storm the fox was born illegally in captivity in Montana and arrived at AWCC with help from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The center is committed to helping animals recover from a variety of situations, whether it's from being trapped and frostbitten in a trap or abandoned at an early age – endless rescue stories can be found at AWCC.
Eileen Floyd, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center's Director of Development, shares what the partnership between Alyeska and the conservation center has accomplished since 2011.
The partnership between Alyeska and AWCC accomplished has been very successful. Please share some of the highlights of that collaboration.
"Our animal adoption program is vital to our work at AWCC because it helps offset the costs associated with caring and feeding the animals that we take care of. Alyeska took part in the program in 2013 and 2014 by adopting two owls. … When Alyeska first got involved, we had a lot of mouths to feed due to the wood bison release program. We were responsible for more than 200 animals with expenses that included hay, feed and veterinary costs. Support through animal adoption from Alyeska and others helped AWCC's joint effort with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in 2015 release 130 wood bison in Western Alaska, where today the herd is thriving and establishing itself once again into the area."
Tell us about the Bison Hall project that AWCC is currently working on.
"The Bison Hall is the new education center currently being constructed at AWCC. At nearly 6,000 square feet, the facility will help educate visitors on the wood bison reintroduction project and provide our education department with dedicated classroom space. The hall will provide the ability to teach year-round, which is a huge step forward for our programs considering the location of the center and the diverse weather we face in Alaska."
Is there anything you’d like to add as Alyeska celebrates 40 years of operations and strong partnerships with the community?
"We are grateful to the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company for their investments in the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. When we work together, we are able to accomplish so much more! Thank you and congratulations on your 40th anniversary."