An Inside Look at the Sanctuary for Alaska Wildlife

View of person bottle feeding a moose at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Meet our friends at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

When you embark on an unforgettable journey to Alaska, you set sail to a world of towering, majestic glaciers, lush green forests and awe-inspiring mountain peaks. Known as the Great Land, it’s also home to abundant wildlife that depend on mother nature for food and shelter. Unlike their human counterparts, Alaska’s creatures don’t have a straight line to emergency care unless they’re in the right place at the right time to be discovered. That’s where the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) comes in. They’re dedicated to caring for the wild’s most vulnerable residents.

Here’s an inside look at the safe haven some creatures call home.

AWCC: Where Nature and Nurture Align

At the heart of Portage Valley, surrounded by the breathtaking Chugach Mountain Range and Turnagain Arm Inlet, you’ll find the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, its furry residents and the humans who love them. AWCC is a sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, research, and quality animal care. The organization takes in injured and orphaned animals year-round, providing them with over 200 acres of spacious habitats. Helping them feel at home, these wild residents can display their natural wild behavior.

Upwards of 255,000 visitors come through their gates each year to experience the beauty of over a dozen different species of Alaska wildlife. You may see brown bears cooling off in the water, a black bear hiding in a tree, a moose showing off as it struts across the field, a porcupine enjoying a climb, and more.

At the heart of AWCC are its people who nurture their permanent and temporary residents in sickness and in health. Sarah Howard, also known as “Howie,” is one of them. Originally hired as an intern in 2010, Sarah has served in multiple roles: animal keeper, curator, and now executive director. Her career journey has been an adventure in itself, but nothing comes close to the bonds she’s created with the animals (and humans) that have stolen her heart.

“We’re a team first and foremost,” she said. “Whether we’re working directly with the animals, or providing education opportunities, or working the ticket booth, we all have the same aspirations for the wildlife center and the animals in our care. AWCC is committed to sustainability, eco-friendly operating practices, and recognition of indigenous and historic uses of the land. It is a privilege to share such a special part of Alaska with the guests who come to visit us. Conservation, education, research, and quality animal care are crucial to the sustainability of Alaska’s wildlife, and it is an honor to be a part of it.”

A Unique Experience for Holland America Line Guests

When you book a shore excursion with a stop at AWCC, you can enjoy a moose encounter with residents, Pip and Jo. Through this wild meet and greet, moose eat right out of your hands while the team shares information about their diet, behavior and wild counterparts.

You can visit AWCC on these Alaska shore excursions:
Turnagain Arm, Wildlife Conservation Center & Alyeska Tram
Portage Glacier Cruise & Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

View of moose eating at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Learn more about the vast array of Alaska wildlife that calls the Great Land home, and set your sights on the epic vacation awaiting you.


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