The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Wild animal education coming to shelter

Please touch: pelts, mounts and hands on displays coming soon


Alaska is famous for its ample opportunities to view wildlife but few opportunities exist for those that are not hunters or trappers to actually touch the animals. The Valdez Animal Shelter is looking to change that and expand its ongoing animal education efforts by adding a hands on Alaska wildlife room for visitors.

"We are starting an indigenous species room to educate our youth and community," a section in the shelter's early 2013 report to city council said. "This room will consist of fur and bones that can be examined and handled."

The new addition will be adjacent to the exotic pet education room, which features real, live animals, many of which can be handled freely by the public.

"This room will offer different pelts, mounts and information pamphlets regarding the different species found in Alaska," the report said.

Mike Lindquist, the city's animal control officer, said the believes the addition of wildlife education will offer a unique hands-on opportunity to handle furs, taxidermy and other wildlife related items that are easy to see in Alaska, but more often than not, are on display to be seen, and not touched.

While there is no set timeline for the opening of the new feature, some objects planned for display have already been acquired, some need processing and some are on a wish list.

Lindquist said the shelter has a river otter pelt and mink pelt that are ready for handling by the public, but other items such as owls and a few other skins, need to the work of a professional taxidermist and are not public ready.

Valdez Star photo

The exotic pet room at the Valdez Animal Shelters welcomes visitors and allows handling of the pets it houses. A new wildlife room is now in the works, which will allow visitors to touch pelts, firs and possibly even bones of Alaska wildlife.

Some wildlife is, for lack of a better description, road kill; other potential displays have been donated by local hunters and trappers.

Lindquist said donations of items of interest will be welcomed as well.

His personal wish list includes, but is not limited to, mounts of indigenous salmon species and a halibut.

The shelter's current exotic pet education room has proven to be a popular draw to the shelter and has been a big hit, especially for youth oriented field trips from area schools and organizations such as Girl Scouts.

While exact numbers of people that use the exotic pet room for education or just enjoying pets are not available, the shelter report says over 10,000 visitors pass through the shelter itself every year.


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