Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More in Haines

I got a good fire going last night and we had some company. The only warm spot was very close to the fire pit. Fortunately I had a lot of wood, so we had a blazing fire for quite a while. In fact, I have plenty of wood for tonight. As we were soaking up the heat, we saw three cruise ships pass on their way south from Skagway. Here, Helen is chatting with one of the campground employees who also was drawn by the fire.

This morning we got up to a slew of crows serenading us with the morning noise opera.

We also found that this little town was about to be over run with a flood of people from yet another visiting cruise ship, the Statendam from Rotterdam. I was surprised to see such a big ship in this little harbor. When we went out, the streets were full of new tourists.

Helen and I were on our way to Kroschel Wildlife Farm, owned and run by Steve Kroschel. Steve's credential run to the incredible, having worked as a nature photographer for National Geographic as well as working with animals to produce several well known commercial films by Disney.

The first animal we came across was this gray wolf. We were told to keep your hand out of the cage, but he seemed as docile as one of our labs. He was in the cage with Mario Bassani, Steve's partner and showed no hostility at all.

Here is Mario with a Great Snowy Owl, the largest owl on the continent. He claimed that the talons on this bird could easily crush his hand with it's talons. The Snowy Owl is not bothered by wolves, bears and such because it's beak and talons can do so much damage.

The animal below is hybrid fox, a cross between the Red and Gray Foxes. This is becoming quite popular in the area. I was a bit surprised because this fox has a whit tip on it's tale. Red foxes can come in many shades and colors, but always has a white tip on its tail. Gray foxes come in various colors and shades, but do not have the white tip. These had a white tip and I would have thought that they were Reds.

This is the resident Grizzly bear. A young female who was orphaned when a hunter shot her mother by mistake. She is already HUGE, and she's only half grown. Steve was hand feeding her with a spoon, a mixture a lot like oatmeal. She, like all the other animals here, is more of a pet than not.

This fine example of a Pine Martin. Also very tame, he can be allowed out in the open as he doesn't run away. We all got the chance to feel his fur and he was very compliant. I want one as a pet.

Helen and I have a soft spot for moose. here we had two females who were ever so mellow. They'd wander against the fence where we could pet them and they were as docile as can be. We were told that moose were actually ridden in Siberia many years ago. They could easily out run a horse, so the Czar ruled that they could no longer be trained to ride and that usage and ability has been lost.

Here are the two beauties. We got the chance to feed them. Now what do you think they eat? Well willow leaves comes to mind as does pond weeds. However for this interaction we were given bananas to feed the moose. Yes, they go wild over bananas! I also got a chance to pet both of them. I'd like a moose as a pet, but I think Florida would be too warm for them.

This is an Arctic Fox in his summer outfit. In the winter he is pure white except for the black tip on its tail. This is a very shy animal and, I guess, a little hyper. We could not pet this one.

Believe it or not, the animal below is one of the most feared in the forest. It is the Wolverine. It will chase away wolves and even grizzly bears. You'd never know it to look at this one as he allowed Steve to handle him quite a bit.

This is the prime member of the cat family in the far north, the Lynx. It is a very beautiful animal with HUGE feet. This animal stayed in the cage while we stayed outside. Steve spread his paws to show us his claws. Awesome!

And this cutie is a porcupine. Another animal with a sweet personality. Later I got the chance to pet a young porcupine and he was very tame. This is one animal that you don't want to rub the wrong way and it's another animal that I want as a pet.

We also saw several animals in the weasel family. Mario told us of a woman in the area who came to him because something was biting her goat's ears. Mario investigated and found a small weasel living in the barn. Each night it would nibble a bit of the goat's ear. He was trapped and relocated and the problem was solved. The 7 inch critter below is the type of weasel responsible. He's too cute not to be my pet.

Mario is another wildlife videographer who has been in the business a long time, documenting the lives of a number of animals, from the small weasel to the polar bear.

At the end of the presentation, Steve held up a jar of moose droppings offering a prize to the first one who could guess how many poops were in the jar. Well, I really know my S**t. I won! Thankfully, I didn't win the jar of moose droppings, but an ink drawing of a wolf. The downside to the whole day is that we had to share the experience with a crowd of people from the cruise ship. They were mostly European and oblivious of other people. They would often get right in front to take a picture and just stay there, not allowing anyone else to do the same.

The thought of spending so many days in a little place like Haines was almost dreaded at first, but we had to wait until we catch the ferry to Skagway. We had a great time here and will remember this as another high spot of our Alaskan Oddessy.


  1. What a great animal sanctuary,these are the kind of places I enjoy and like to take my Grandson to.Your pictures are great.Rigg's is really enjoying his trip, today we are heading to a State Park in Ohio that includes a Doggie area with water access.He will be spoiled rotten there. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna.