In 2008, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center embarked on plans to develop an Alaskan bear conservation science and education facility and interpretive center.
The B.E.A.R.S. (Bear Education Awareness Research Sanctuary) exhibit will be an 11,000 square foot “green” facility that will include habitat enhancements and a 30 acre expansion for the center’s brown and black bear residents. In addition, an interpretive educational center and conservation research facility dedicated to advancing the public’s awareness and appreciation for Alaska’s bears (the polar bear, American black bear and grizzly or brown bear) is currently under development. The facility will permit visitors to explore interactive experiences featuring thematic displays of Alaska’s bears while offering viewing of our own bears ambassadors on exhibit from inside the interpretive center or via webcam. Education and outreach programs will serve as the foundation for B.E.A.R.S. engagement programs. Conservation and science initiatives will serve to support the facility’s outreach programs. The center has dedicated staff to develop B.E.A.R.S. as a resource hub for Alaskan Bear Conservation programs, inviting international colleagues and enthusiasts to visit and convey conservation message for Alaska’s bears and the five other species around the world.
The B.E.A.R.S. exhibit will introduce visitors to the AWCC’s resident bear ambassadors and immerse patrons in a interactive experience through thematic displays featuring cultural and historical artifacts and information on bears as they have coexisted with early man to current day conflict with human-habituated bears to eco-tourism and bear viewing in Alaska.
The building itself will provide some replicate Alaskan native architecture and contemporary displays to highlight sustainable and eco-conscious practices for sharing the world with the animal kingdom. B.E.A.R.S will speak to Alaska’s bruins which live amidst the last strong-holds for these iconic species. In addition to interactive gallery exhibits, a 200 seat auditorium, dedicated rooms for lecture and conference, a gift shop, public, bathroom facilities, administrative offices, and outdoor platforms for bear viewing will be included in the exhibit. A special area will also be developed to observe the bears during hibernation. The center will incorporate interpretive displays under the advisement of Polar Bears International, the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) and the Bear Specialist Group (SSC IUCN).
I am very excited to have been invited to join old friends and colleagues as they embark on plans to build a state-of-the-art education, conservation, and science facility dedicated to raising awareness for bears of Alaska on the campus of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This proposed interpretive learning center (B.E.A.R.S.) will be a welcomed addition to the already spacious and natural bear enclosures that have drawn many visitors to the center, including many prominent professionals from zoological parks in the lower 48 states and from around the world. The AWCC does display and provide sanctuary for several North American carnivores, including two species of bears, but they have been most recently recognized for their state- endorsed and supported reintroduction of the functionally extinct (in AK) wood bison, the largest mammal in North America. If you are interested in this project, please contact me at email@example.com.
See the Brochure on B.E.A.R.S.
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