A red fox kit sits on a bed of grass at the Alaska Wildlife Consevation Center. Fees collected from animal adoptions over the holiday season will be used to build a small-animal enclosure.
Photo coutesy AWCC
In Rankin Bass’s long-running Christmas television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” orphaned toys are sent to the island of misfit toys. In Alaska, there is no island for orphaned toys, but there is a home for orphaned animals, and like the toys on Bass’s misfit island these animals would love to be adopted over the holiday season.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage cares for 180 wildlife orphans and other wildlife that cannot survive on its own, and has kicked off an animal adoption program for the holiday season.
Adoption certificates come with glossy photos of adopted animals, stuffed animal replicas and other tokens of gratitude from the center and make great gifts, said Diana Weinhardt, Director of Conservation and Wildlife Programs at AWCC.
But best of all, the money collected from adoption fees will help the center open an improved small-animal enclosure, allowing visitors to see the center’s small animals, including young orphans, while giving the animals enough space to feel secure.
“So orphan foxes, porcupines, marmots ... we’ll have a place that’s safe and secure for these orphans, but also would allow the visitors to see them,” Weinhardt said.
Although young animals might not need as much space to roam as adult wildlife animals, they do need adequate space to feel secure and safe.
Weinhardt said the center’s young orphans tend to spook easily compared to its adult wildlife animals, which have learned the visitors viewing them will not harm them.
The small-animal enclosure will be particularly valuable during the spring when the center tends to receive young orphans such as the three red fox kits it received last spring, Weinhardt said.
Two of the kits came to the center after they were removed from the Elmendorf Airforce Base because the mother had built the den dangerously close to the runway, and the center received the third kit from Palmer woman who had found it.
The three kits were placed in an exhibit, but the exhibit was rather small and caretakers had to be extra creative to make the enclosure comfortable for the kits, while still allowing the public to see them.
“They were real nervous and the only place we had for them was not very far from the washing facilities,” Weinhardt said. “There wasn’t that barrier, where there was enough space that they could have a secure feeling, but still be seen. They had people just a couple of feet away from them and sometimes the people didn’t even know they were right there because our interns did this really neat camouflage thing over the top of it so they would have shade and a little bit security.”
Money collected from adoption fees will also help offset feeding and veterinarian expenses.
Every year the center’s animals eat approximately $60,000 in grains, hay, produce and live prey, and can run up a veterinarian bill of anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 in a year.
People who make an animal adoption by Dec. 19 will receive a Christmas adoption kit from the conservation center that they can tuck under the Christmas tree alongside any toys that may have been adopted from misfit island.
For more information on how to adopt a AWCC animal call 783-2025 or 230-0982.
Patrice Kohl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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