AWCC is the permanent home to 5 bears, two Black Bears, 2 Brown Bears, and 1 Grizzly Bear. We provide spacious enclosures for these special animals, allowing them to live a life that closely mirrors their life in the wild.
Black bears are the smallest bears in Alaska, but this is relative. Adult males can weigh close to 300 pounds. They are found in heavily forested areas throughout Alaska and are amazingly good tree climbers.
Kuma: Kuma is a male black bear that was brought to AWCC in May 2002, weighing only three pounds. He was found alone in a hole in a backyard in Trapper Creek, AK. The homeowner was putting in a septic system and when the mother bear passed by, the cub fell in and was unable to climb out. When the cub was discovered, the sow was nowhere to be found. One of Kuma’s favorite hangouts at AWCC is high up in the cottonwood trees. He spends hours napping comfortably in the high elevation and doesn’t appear to be bothered by heavy rain or high winds!
Hugo: Hugo is a female grizzly from Hugo Mountain near Kotzebue, AK. Two men riding snow machines found her in November 2000 with hundreds of porcupine quills imbedded in her paws. She was severely dehydrated and malnourished and was unable to walk or eat when brought to AWCC. Although she has made a good recovery, she cannot be released into the wild because she does not have the needed skills to survive on her own. Hugo was the first bear to be given a permanent home at AWCC. Photo courtesy of Gary Lackie.
In the town of Willow, a brown bear sow killed a moose calf in a resident’s backyard. The man was afraid that the bear might try to attack his dog, so he killed the sow not knowing that she had cubs. In Alaska, killing a bear in defense of life or property is legal. Once he saw the two cubs at the top of a very tall and skinny birch tree, he called the area wildlife biologist to notify him of the situation.
Daring Rescue Saves Cubs’ Lives!! The biologist, who happens to be a former gymnast, daringly climbed to the top of the skinny tree and grabbed the smaller male cub by a rear leg, holding on to the tree with the other hand. He climbed down and lowered the cub into a fish net. The second cub was more of a challenge. She was a large female cub and acted aggressively. The biologist climbed to the top of the tree, injected her with a sedative then grabbed her by the scruff. As he began to climb down, the skinny birch tree began to bend and crack. The tree bent all the way over, delivering the biologist and the cub safely to the ground!