Until mankind first stepped outside in 1934, nature was thought to be a fanciful myth, like yogurt or the clutch hitter. Spend a few hours frolicking through the fresh air of truth with this Groupon.
Visitors wander up to the farm's herd of musk oxen, which includes frolicking calves in the spring, to get an up-close look at a 600,000-year-old species that once roamed the earth among ground sloths and wooly mammoths. Guides and educational exhibits spotlight the long history and recent domestication of the majestic animal, as well as how its wool forms the basis of an Artic native textile industry. Staff lead tours every 45 minutes during summer hours through mid-September.
The Musk Ox Farm director Mark Austin is the first to admit that Ginger, a three-day-old musk ox calf, is the cutest thing in the world. Her thin legs take wobbling steps. Her fine fuzz tickles her giant mothers belly. And when she ambles through the pasture after nursing, her bright pink tongue wags from the side of her mouth. And Ginger is just the beginning: 18 more calves are on the way this spring season, and the farm will soon burst into a flurry of feeding, combing, inserting microchips, tending to mothers, and, of course, greeting visitors.
Though he acknowledges the endearing quality of a baby musk ox in spring, Mr. Austin worries that visitors interest in The Musk Ox Farm might stop with Ginger. Im trying to battle the perception were a roadside attraction. Its not just about getting out of your car and snapping a photo of a musk ox for your Alaska photo album.
Not that Mr. Austin hasnt snapped a few photos of Ginger himself. He simply hopes the spectacle wont overshadow the nonprofit farms scope, which begins and ends with the animals themselves. Although the majestic species is about 600,000 years old, it was domesticated only 60 years ago by Farm founder John Teal. Every spring, the thousand-pound animals shed their qiviut, a thick under wool, which the farm ships to the native knitters cooperative in Oomingmak. There, members knit the wool into delicate lacy garments that they eventually sell to supplement their subsistence lifestyle. So when Mr. Austin looks at Ginger, he sees not just a huggable calf, but the source of positive economic change for rural native Alaskan women. The animals are fascinating, he says. But its the big picture that gets me up in the morning.
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