In May, I took a trip to Sitka and made time to visit the Fortress of the Bear. Their mission is fairly simple, to provide protection and care to rescue animals in an enriching, educational environment. They do not accept government funding and rely completely on admissions and merchandise sales. You can even purchase “gifts” for bears like honey, peanut butter, buckets, toys and more, in the form of a gift card that explains how they will benefit. Great gifts for friends and family members, I bought three myself.
Overall, it was an amazing experience, a rare chance to see bears from 25-50 feet away. The rescue is set on 3/4 of an acre just a few miles from town, adjacent to the Tongass National Forest. There were eight bears in total, ranging from two to nine years old. The bear manager, Claire, was an excellent host and obviously very passionate about the care and well being of her “residents.” We saw them play with toys, wrestle in the water and actually sign for more food. The entire experience was adorable and memorable. I took a few pictures to capture the moment.
And don’t worry, the bear above that looks like he was ready to eat us for dinner was NOT angry! Claire just asked him to show his teeth. If you ever get a chance to visit Sitka, or even stop on a cruise ship, please make time to visit the Fortress of the Bear.