Alaska Wildlife Parks, Zoos, Aquariums
Want to be sure you get some winning shots of wildlife on your vacation? Visit these venues across Alaska.
They are the homes to real Alaskan wildlife. And many locations double as rescue and rehabilitation centers.
You can often take a behind-the-scenes tour, too, to get up close and learn even more about the species that live there. At the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, connect with an octopus arm to arm in the Octopus Encounter, or feed a puffin on the Puffin Encounter. Near Anchorage at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center one option is a Bear Encounter, where visitors participate in their daily training and feeding.
Any of these venues are must-see stops if you're traveling with kids!
Wildlife Parks, Zoos, Aquariums
A great place to visit with the family, this extensive center includes a saltwater touch tank and interpretive displays on wildlife and the fishing industry. It’s also a base for marine research. There is a 3,500-gallon, 10-foot cylinder aquarium where you can watch the species of the cold saltwater environment surrounding Kodiak. The touch-tank will let you look, handle, and learn about the variety of species in the area’s tide pools: sea… ...more
You’ll look eagles in the eye at this raptor rehab and education center on the edge of Tongass National Forest. You’ll get a close-up look at a snowy owl, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, great-horned owl, red-tailed hawk, and even the tiny northern saw-whet owl.
In the coastal Southeast Alaskan town of Sitka, marine wildlife typically plays out on a big scenic backdrop. At Sitka’s unique Science Center, you’ll find a salmon hatchery and aquarium. Wildlife fans get an up-close look at the marine creatures that make this part of Alaska so special.
This world-class, 115,000-square-foot facility was built with funds from the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and serves to remind visitors — in a highly interactive way — of the importance of understanding and maintaining Alaska’s marine ecosystem. See life swimming right before your eyes: witness a Steller sea lion gliding past underwater viewing windows, puffins diving in natural habitat, and harbor seals resting on rocky beaches. Take self-guided or ...more
At the 200-acre Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, see Alaskan wildlife up close. The center’s mission is to provide refuge for orphaned, injured, and ill animals — those that can’t survive in the wild. The center, which opened to the public in 1993, educates visitors about Alaska’s wildlife. Coyotes peer out from behind the brush while a bald eagle swoops in on the salmon remains left by a grizzly bear. Wood Bison plod through 65 acres of tidal ...more
The Alaska Zoo started in 1966 with one baby elephant named Annabelle that was won in a contest. Since then, it has expanded to include over 77 animals across 25 acres of the Anchorage hillside.
In the agricultural Matanuska Valley just north of Anchorage, you can pet a reindeer or feed fresh willow to a bull moose. Set on a 200-acre plot in Palmer, the Reindeer Farm has been in the Williams family for three generations. During the one-hour tour, you’ll hear interesting, funny, and insightful stories about these wild animals while walking around the property. If you want to see the baby reindeer, come in June!
Located 45 minutes from Anchorage, the Musk Ox farm project was conceived in the 1950s as an agrarian opportunity for villagers in Western Alaska; today it’s a fascinating look at an animal (and a way of life) that was perilously close to extinction. You can take a 30- to 40-minute tour of the farm and see some 70 musk ox. Since they’re friendly creatures, they may come right up to the fence to greet you.
The American Bald Eagle Foundation and Live Raptor Center is a non-profit education center located near the post office, a few blocks from downtown Haines. And in the summer, the center hosts live raptor programs featuring bald eagles, owls, hawks, and other birds of prey. The museum has an enormous room filled with realistic taxidermy displays of a wide variety of Alaskan critters. You’ll also find a variety of habitats and species ...more
This park about an hour’s drive from Haines is a tribute to owner Steve Kroschel, who has been working with wildlife for most of his 60 years, including an appearance on TV’s Late Show with Johnny Carson. The bond between Kroschel and his menagerie makes this park endearingly different.
Meet some reindeer • See birds, foxes, moose at wildlife sanctuary
Sample a variety of Alaskan activities year-round through this organization that’s all about showcasing the community of Two Rivers. The signature Taste of Two Rivers Tour includes a dog sled demonstration, gold panning, and an opportunity to meet & pet reindeer. Other summer tours include hikes with reindeer and visiting a peony farm. In winter, go dog sledding (day or multi-day expedition) and view the northern lights.
Come visit and you might see up to 15 different kinds of mammals — from beavers to red foxes, flying squirrels, snowshoe hares, and even moose — and several species of birds. Throughout the Sanctuary’s trail system there are 14 interpretive signs, so you can learn how the birds, fish, frogs, and mammals survive in interior Alaska’s tough climate.
You may think of reindeer as flying creatures of the imagination, but here in Alaska they’re very real. And this unique tour gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent animals. Walk among them and pet them — it’s truly a moment made for Instagram.
Daily tours at the Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station (LARS) at University of Alaska Fairbanks provide visitors with the chance to view muskoxen and reindeer while learning about ongoing research studying the adaptations enabling these arctic animals to survive and thrive in extremely cold temperatures.