The Admirable Alaska Animal Sanctuary Providing Safe Haven For Bears

Fortress of the Bear - An Alaska Animal Sanctuary in Sitka, Alaska

 By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley 

Located on Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska, Fortress of the Bear is a one-of-a-kind Alaska animal sanctuary where visitors can get up close and personal with beautiful brown and black bears. Each year, visitors travel from far and wide to the rainforest community of Sitka where this attraction is located. After the bears wake up from their winter hibernation, crowds flocks by the hundreds and thousands to experience this fascinating facility. [caption id="attachment_9491" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Flickr - Robert Karma[/caption]
As the Fortress of the Bear founders say on their website, it’s important to remember that long before the gold miners, king crab chasers, fishermen, and cruise ships arrived in the Last Frontier – bears ruled Alaska. With an ever-growing population of humans and subsequent development, bears have been pushed out of their territory and as a result interaction with humans has caused many bears to become orphaned or sick. [caption id="attachment_9488" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
With a mission dedicated to “providing protection and care to rescued animals in an enriching, educational environment,” this 501(C)3 not-for-profit organization has pioneered a bear rehabilitation program. Before Fortress of the Bear, the State of Alaska had no bear rehabilitation program in place. It was routine procedure that orphaned bear cubs would be shot by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, due to lack of a better alternative. [caption id="attachment_9489" align="aligncenter" width="960"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
Since the incredible Fortress of the Bear facility opened 20 years ago back in 2007, it now houses eight furry, funny, adorable bears. [caption id="attachment_9482" align="aligncenter" width="960"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
The mission of this Alaska animal sanctuary is to rescue bear cubs, bring them back to health, and provide a long life full of enrichment to the otherwise helpless animals. Rehabilitated bears from this Alaska animal sanctuary have even been sent on to places such as the Bronx Zoo, Montana Grizzly Encounter, and the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Texas. [caption id="attachment_9479" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
Each year, over 20,000 visitors flock to the outdoor structure to walk around the observation decks that overlook the beautiful bears. [caption id="attachment_9485" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
While excited visitors anxiously await the observation opportunity of their lifetime, the bears are known to also enjoy looking right back up at their human visitors (which would be a terrifying sight to see if they weren’t a safe distance away). [caption id="attachment_9478" align="aligncenter" width="960"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
Visitors have fun watching the furry residents have a blast down below while playing with toys and enjoying the company of the other resident bears. [caption id="attachment_9487" align="aligncenter" width="960"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
When it comes to enrichment, Fortress of the Bear knows how to treat their local residents like royalty. The happy bears enjoy feasting on fresh salmon from local fish processing plants as well as produce from local markets. [caption id="attachment_9481" align="aligncenter" width="720"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]

The bears are also known to get spoiled with popsicles, Easter egg hunts, and scrumptious deer carcasses donated by local area hunters.

[caption id="attachment_9477" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
They even like to cuddle with soft plush animals from time to time. [caption id="attachment_9480" align="aligncenter" width="720"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
The wonderful staff and volunteers even make sure that the bears get in on all the fun holiday action that humans get to enjoy. [caption id="attachment_9484" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
Nothing to see here… just a sweet black bear named Bandit hanging out in a hammock. [caption id="attachment_9486" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
The many faces of Toby are sure to leave a lasting impression. [caption id="attachment_9483" align="aligncenter" width="960"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
Visitors to this incredible Alaska animal sanctuary have the rare opportunity to get within 25 feet of the bears. The ¾ acre lot is located just five miles from the city center of Sitka. Open year-round with varying hours depending on weather conditions, visitors will enjoy being able to soak in three fascinating populations of bears alongside the trusty knowledge of local naturalists. [caption id="attachment_9476" align="aligncenter" width="942"]fortress of the bear alaska animal sanctuary Facebook - Fortress of the Bear[/caption]
Looking for more where that came from? You'll love these 13 videos showing times when Alaska bears thought they were humans and got caught on candid camera. These 15 times Alaska moose thought they were humans and got caught on candid camera, are also quite enjoyable!
If you are living and loving The Alaska Life – share your adventures with us on our Facebook page HERE, and they might just end up getting featured in one of our next blog posts.
Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley 

3 comments

Love the bear we visited them in 2015 beautiful Sitka

Judy Hedrick April 17, 2021

Just ;love Alaska ,I’ve been there twice an just couldn’t get enough of it
It’s gorgeous ,would love to go back an see more of the beauty of the mts an rivers lakes ,but time is running out as I am getting to old to travel that far I am so enjoying these pictures ,kinda sick at what I missed ,alto did enjoy what part I saw
Thanks for showing all these pictures ,at least I get to see some of what I missed
great pictures

ELIZABETH MOORE April 17, 2021

Absolutely awesome.

Willi Pretorius April 17, 2021

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