Making play things for wild things

Published: Dec. 1, 2017 at 8:04 PM AKST
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Every first Saturday of the month, volunteers get a chance to make play things for wild things, the animals at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

The monthly, three-hour workshop concentrates on constructing a particular type of toy, and learning about resident animals at the facility, from AWCC's expert animal care staff, according to the organization.

"You know, we have these animals that come in from the wild and a captive life is never gonna be the same as a wild life" David Rehak Suma, AWCC's outreach director said. "And so, what we try and do is to offer them as much as we can in terms of keeping them entertained, keeping them busy, and keeping them happy."

Volunteers create play toys using burlap, sticks and other animal-safe materials. They include paper mache "pumpkins" that animals can rip apart to get food treats, and mini scarecrows, that raise the animals' curiosity.

There are also "scent sticks". "Oh scent sticks are great" Rehak Suma said. "So, we've got a ton of different types of things that produce a scent, everything from maple syrup to soy sauce to moose juice, and each of the animals will react to them differently. You can imagine that the moose really excited about a moose attractant, but so would the wolves."

Jennifer Gihuly took part in the "Animal Enrichment Day" event in early November. "I've observed the animals but I really haven't done much to give back" she said, "so I felt this would be a really fun way to give back to the animals that brought me so much joy and entertainment watching them."

"I look at some of the animals almost as if they're orphans" volunteer Anna Wilks said, "and they need us to make a good life for them. so, this is fun."

Space is limited for the event each month. For information go to AWCC's