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Get Out: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

By Brett Shepard 6:48 PM May 1, 2014

This week’s edition is for the animal lovers. We went to Portage for an up-close look at a unique park in this beautiful corner of the state.

Portage is at the end of the Turnagain Arm and is one of the most scenic spots in Southcentral Alaska.

There are a large number of animals that get to call this amazing spot home at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

It’s a 200-acre park that is designed to be an open, more natural environment.

“With all of our animals we do everything we can do to introduce them back into the wild. So every animal here has a special and unique story. A special and unique reason why they are here in captivity,” said Scott Michaelis the director of marketing and sales at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Aside from the elk, all of the animals at the park are exclusively Alaskan.

And since it’s spring they are expecting new additions to their elk herd, musk ox and big additions to their wood bison.

“A really exciting thing this spring will be for our wood bison herd. We could expect as many as 50 newborn calves,” Michaelis said.

Many of the wood bison will be moving from Portage in the near future as AWEC employees hope to re-introduce many of them into the wilds of Alaska in 2015.

This spring has brought us warm weather and all of the bears have come out of their dens, though they were being a bit shy when we were there.

The bear den has been the site of a lot of work recently with a new boardwalk and a soon-to-open amphitheater.

If you are familiar with the weather in Portage it can be kind of messy at times. The great thing about this park is that you can enjoy it from the comfort of your car when the weather does get a little ugly.

Rain or shine the animals and visitors seem to enjoy themselves.

“Nice to kind of see them in a natural habitat. You can’t beat the background of the mountains. I mean it’s like nothing we’ve seen before,” Joy Downs from Raleigh, North Carolina.

The bear enclosure, it’s 18 acres, and at a zoo you just see a pen with a bear in it. This way you get the wild and the animal there. It just seems more natural,” said Joy’s husband Tim.

For more information on the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center you can visit their website at http://www.alaskawildlife.org

If you have any ideas for the Get Out series you can contact Brett Shepard at bshepard@ktva.com.

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