Meet the Brown Bears

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Meet Hugo

Two men riding snow machines on Hugo Mountain near Kotzebue, Alaska, found our grizzly bear, Hugo in 2000 abandoned and with hundreds of porcupine quills embedded in her paws.

She was severely dehydrated, malnourished and was unable to walk or eat when she was brought to the AWCC. Although she has made an incredible recovery, she cannot be released back into the wild because she does not have the necessary skills to survive on her own. Hugo was the first bear to be given a permanent home at AWCC. She loves catching fish in the stream, playing with her fellow brown bears, JB and Patron, and playing with hay bales she receives for enrichment.

Grizzly Bears:

Hugo is AWCC’s only grizzly bear. Grizzly bears are a type of brown bear. They are smaller than coastal brown bears because they do not have as much access to rich fish runs. They also face colder and more brutal winters than the coastal bears. Grizzly bears are found throughout the United States, whereas coastal brown bears are found only in Alaska. Brown bears are omnivores, so they eat deer, moose, fish, as well as leaves and berries.

Meet Joe Boxer and Patron

A bear sleeps surrounded by frosty plants
JB’s and Patron’s story began in the town of Willow, Alaska.

Their mother killed a moose calf in a local resident’s backyard and as result, the man was afraid the bear might try to attack his dog. The man killed the sow*, not knowing she had cubs nearby. Once he saw the two cubs, he called the area wildlife biologist to notify him of the situation. The biologist, who happened to be a former gymnast, daringly climbed to the top of the skinny tree the cubs were hiding in. He was able to grab the smaller male cub by a rear leg, holding on to the tree with the other hand. He climbed down and lowered the cub into a fish net. The second cub was more of a challenge; she was a large female cub and acted aggressively. The biologist climbed to the top of the tree, injected her with a sedative, then grabbed her by the scruff. As he began to climb down, the skinny birch tree began to bend and crack. The tree bent all the way over, delivering the biologist and the cub safely to the ground!

After they were rescued and monitored, JB and Patron came to live at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in 2004. The siblings have since thrived! They can both be found wandering their large wooded enclosure, digging holes in the ground, or catching fish in the stream running through their enclosure! The siblings also enjoy roughhousing with each other and their fellow bear, Hugo.

*In Alaska, killing a bear in defense of life or property is legal.

About Coastal Bears:

JB and Patron are both coastal bears, commonly referred to as brown bears. Coastal bears tend to be larger than their cousins the grizzly bears because they have better access to rich fish runs. They also do not face as cold and brutal of winters as the grizzly bears of interior Alaska do. Bears are omnivores, so they eat deer, moose, and a variety of birds as well as leaves and berries. Brown bears can weigh up to 700 pounds and stand as tall as 9.5 feet!

Listen to the Brown Bear Audio Guide

Discover the WILD of Alaska and come meet the locals! Walk on the Wild Side Tours are available year-round and include an animal encounter. Summer Moose Encounters & Bear Encounters are available for online booking. Book early to ensure your spot!