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Get Up Close with Wildlife and Aquatic Species at Alaska’s Zoos

Most people come to Alaska hoping to catch sights of animals in the wild. If you are traveling with small children or just looking to get a close-up wildlife view, the Alaska Zoo and Alaska SeaLife Center let you get personal with the land and marine species in their rehabilitation centers.

Located on 25 acres along the Anchorage hillside, the Alaska Zoo showcases some of the best species found in its native environment. From black and brown bears to Dall sheep and mountain goats, you don’t have to go into nature for marvelous views of Alaska’s finest wildlife. Special encounters include Keeper for a Day where you can spend five hours behind-the-scenes with a Zoo Keeper and Animal Encounters where you can participate in up-close care of big cats or wolves.

For marine exploration, Alaska SeaLife Center on Resurrection Bay in Seward, offers rehabilitation for wounded or stranded sea animals. Stellar Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, and Ringed Seals can most often be found at the center. However, birds like Long Tailed Ducks and Rhinoceros Auklets can also be found resting here along with native fish and invertebrates like the Green Sea Urchin.

Alaska Sealife Center

Opened in 1996, the Alaska Sealife Center, located along Resurrection Bay in the Gulf of Alaska, is the only wildlife rescue center and public aquarium along the Bay.

The center strives to educate its visitors, while conducting valuable research of Alaska's signature and rare ecosystems.

For 10 years, this wonderful center has educated its visitors on the Alaskan wildlife, as well as cared for injured marine animals.

This non-profit center, affiliated with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, remains the only cold-water research facility in the country.

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

A dynamic wilderness and important cultural landmark, the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve can be found northwest of Fairbanks. Orignally, the land bridge once provided a pathway for nomandic animals, peoples, and plants to cross over from Eurasia into the developing North America.

Today, the remains of the bridge are dotted with anicent lava flows, once-volcanic lakes, and numerous hot springs. The tundra landscape offers good opportunity to spot muskox and caribou while visitors can also contend themselves with outside activities like frontier hikes, hunting, trapping, bird watching, and living off the land.

Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge

Comprised of 2,000 acres, Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge in Fairbanks, Alaska is managed by the state’s Game and Fish department to provide refuge to wildlife in the area. The land's woods, fields, and wetlands are home to many different species of wildlife, and visitors are afforded an opportunity to see much of the scenery via well-paved walking paths throughout the property.

Creamer’s Field greets guests initially entering the property with its Visitor’s Center, located in the Farmhouse near the dairy barns and creamery. Inside the Farmhouse visitors have access to volunteers to provide information and exhibits regarding the history of the land and the wildlife as well as maps of the trails available.

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1980, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge protects and preserves nearly two million acres of Alaskan wildlife and scenery.

Visitors are invited to explore the far reaches of the park via hiking trails, kayaking, canoeing, cross country skiing, or any other recreational activity.

Once known as the Kenai National Moose Range, the park gets its namesake from the nearby Kenai Mountains found near the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Other points of interest within the park include Tustumena and Skilak Lakes and Kenai River.

Kodiak Fisheries Research Center

Located on the "Island of the Big Bear" – otherwise known as Kodiak –the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center preserves the delicate ecosystems of native marine life found in the area. And despite it being a “research center,” it’s actually a fun-filled place for visitors of all ages.

In fact, guests frequently enjoy the saltwater touch tank – where actual sea creatures can be held, if only for a brief moment. Moreover, the large aquarium leaves guests with first-class views of large marine animals, while the smaller tanks showcase native cod, sollock, salmon, and rockfish.

Kodiak National Wildlife Interpretive Center

Found on the island community of Kodiak, the Kodiak National Wildlife Interpretive Center and Refuge s dedicated to preserving and educating visitors about Alaska’s superb wildlife and landscape. The visitor center frequently hosts a number of excellent displays, workshops, films, and educational talks.

While the interpretive center is very interesting, the Kodiak Refuge is truly an outdoors person’s paradise, encompassing over one million acres of “the Island of the Great Bear.” Aside from the incredible scenery, visitors can enjoy an abundance of wildlife viewing, hunting, and fishing while exploring the refuge.

The Alaska Zoo

Opened in 1968, the Alaska Zoo has been providing animal fun to Anchorage visitors for over 40 years. Stroll the grounds to see a wonderful variety of animals including, moose, yaks, alpacas, owls, bald eagles, lynx, wolverines, red foxes and river otters.

Be sure to take the kids to the petting zoo and the Discovery Center. The zoo offers behind-the-scenes tours, Discovery Tours and Animal Encounter tours for those looking for more time and fun with the animals. Sign up to be a "Keeper for a Day" to feed the polar bears and prepare meals.