On the fringes of the University of Alaska campus is a 134-acre home to about 50 musk ox, 45 caribou, and 40 domestic reindeer. The last two are actually the same animal from most standpoints; they can interbreed, and the main difference comes down to the fact that reindeer, having been domesticated, are lazier and fatter than caribou. Resident and visiting scientists study these large ungulates to better understand their physiologies and how they adapt to Arctic conditions. The station also serves as a valuable outreach program. Most people have little chance to see these animals in their natural habitats, especially the musk ox. Once nearly eradicated from Alaska, these shaggy, prehistoric-looking beasts are marvels of adaptive physiques and behaviors. Their qiviut, the delicate musk ox undercoat of hair that is so soft it makes cashmere feel like steel wool, is combed out (without harming the animals) and made into yarn for scarves, hats, and gloves. The station has this unprocessed
wool and yarn for sale to help fund the care of the animals. On tours you visit the pens for a close-up look at the animals and their young, while learning about the biology and ecology of the animals from a naturalist. The tours are a very good deal, and the best way to learn about the animals, but you can also just come by any time of day, and usually see musk ox from the parking lot; they sometimes come quite close to the fence.
2220 Yankovich Rd., off Ballaine Rd., behind University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, 99709, United States