Posted by: tlnemethy | May 23, 2012

Escape from the Lodge: Part 1

I worried that I would never have seen the actual Sitka, well, besides the lodge Sitka that I’ve known so well. It is quaint and rustic and whatnot, but I wanted that adventure people seek when thinking of Alaska. Give me a gold rush. That’s all I want; my own gold rush.

I went to Fortress of the Bear a few days ago with a client. Lucky me, I didn’t have to pay to get in, but I sure took a ton of pictures. I’m no doubt, a sucker for animal stories. ImageApparently, at this rescue, they take in abandoned or orphaned bear cubs from all over Alaska and raise them for a while until they transfer them to other locations around the world. Many are practically starved to death before they come to the Fortress, and are practically feral, but with the kindness and patience of the staff, they eventually learn to trust and become loving and extra large almost-pets. They come when called, and individually perform their own tricks before they can get their share of the given food. I find it a little demeaning to have wild animals performing tricks, but they don’t seem too bad off I suppose. Image

They become like children to the Fortress workers. Remember a few years back when that clip of Christian the lion went up on YouTube? I teared up a bit at the reunion and that was just watching a stupid minute long clip. Imagine hearing a first hand account of raising a cub for three years and having to send it off to a zoo in Canada. This sweet little cuddly baby you fed grapes to one by one until it trusted you enough to touch your fingertips was being sent to live elsewhere and its not like you could do anything different. Imagine going to visit after a few months and walking in the aisle of cages and saying her name only to have her turn around, poke her head through the bars, and pull you to herself with her huge paws. The man who raised her was tearing up when he told the story, which of course made me too. He said it was the closest thing to a child’s hug he’d ever felt.

I would’ve loved to have spent more time with him, but the client was getting antsy so we made haste and booked it out of the joint. I’ll be back though, gotta pick his Imagebrain about the bears. And I think I’ll send someone a bag of fur and Alaskan sand. Nothing weirder to receive in the mail than that. Also, I just wanna see this meany again. He had the smile of a velociraptor and I really wouldn’t want him coming after me. I watched him eat a chunk of meat about three feet from me and couldn’t help but fear making quick movements.

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