The Animal Resources Center operates two UAF animal facilities and Veterinary Services.
Biological Research and Diagnostics (BiRD) Building
The Biological Research and Diagnostics (BiRD) Building is the University’s primary animal facility and home to the Animal Resources Center. This building was first occupied in 2007 and was jointly funded using a mixture of State of Alaska and UAF funding with a $3.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The BiRD Building, the neighboring State Virology Laboratory (Alaska Department of Health and Social Services), and the Murie Building is an inter-connected trio of campus buildings making up UAF’s core biomedical research complex.
At roughly 48,000 sq ft the BiRD Building is a mechanically complex building designed to ensure the safety of our animals and the integrity of our research. The design uses a suite arrangement to maintain animal safety and to minimize disturbance. Our facility has advanced environmental controls allowing for real–time monitoring of room temperature, humidity, air flow, and lighting. UAF has a large program involving hibernating animals so we have six walk-in chambers allowing us a broader range of environmental temperatures than in conventional rooms. Back-up air handlers and an emergency power system allows us to ensure research continuity in case of mechanical or electrical failures. Our cage cleaning core is central to the facility. It is divided into a dirty and clean side with both a cage & rack washer as well as a tunnel washer with a bedding dispenser. The future was considered during facility design and the east wing of the facility was constructed to accommodate a barrier facility including design features for a sterile cage wash zone.
We work with a wide variety of species in BiRD but some projects require the animals to be housed in a naturalistic setting. As a component of the BiRD Facility, we manage a small 7 acre outdoor facility set in the nearby boreal forest. This has allowed for naturalistic housing of various species including chick-a-dee, red poll, raven, porcupine, and snowshoe hare.
In addition to the animal facility, the BiRD building houses ARC offices and the Veterinary Services Core providing veterinary care to all animal facilities at UAF. We have clinical, surgical, anesthesia, and imaging support services for the health management of our animals as well as support services for our faculty, staff and students. Also, with no animal disease diagnostic laboratory available in the State of Alaska we provided diagnostic pathology including but not limited to necropsy, histopathology, clinical pathology, and molecular diagnostics. We work closely with outside laboratories for ancillary testing such as microbiology, toxicology, and feed nutrient analysis. Click on “Services” or “Log-In” for more information.
Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station (LARS)
The R.G. White Large Animal Research Station (LARS) has a broad mission to support research, education, and outreach on Alaskan animals. We support the interests and activities of UAF scientists but we also serve scientists from other institutions and organizations in the United States and from around the world. LARS is a 130 acre facility on Yankovich Road currently housing muskoxen and reindeer but is also periodically home to other large animals. We are located on a former homestead established by Mike Yankovich in 1923. Mike turned the farm over to the University in 1963 and we had our first muskoxen arrive in 1964.
Our animals are maintained for a wide variety of research and educational projects including reproduction, nutrition, energetics, and behavior. These herds are valuable for research on fundamental biological principles, biomedical sciences, validating and teaching wildlife and protocols, as well as evaluating and developing their use in Alaskan agriculture.
LARS animal management and herd health program ensure healthy, well-cared for animals with very reliable reproductive performance.
The facility is divided into a variety of holding areas with 8 large pastures mixed with boreal forest and many smaller holding pens. We have a heated barn with handling facilities for both muskoxen and reindeer with sorting pens and raceways suited to these species. Projects can range from observational studies to projects involving regular handling and manipulation. In addition to our main handling barn, we have a small barn used for habituating young animals to handling and manipulations, a classroom, an office building, and a cabin to accommodate visiting scientists working at LARS.
LARS is currently the only animal research facility in the world with a herd of muskoxen habituated to routines allowing for low stress handling and manipulations needed for research and teaching protocols.
Our reindeer are also easily handled. Most of our adult females and young animals are halter trained and can be worked using a lead rope. Our bulls are not as cooperative; however, we have facilities to safely work with them!
LARS is utilized for university and K-12 educational programs. We also engage the community in outreach activities and we share information about husbandry, herd health, and pasture management.
Contact us for information about conducting research or offering educational and outreach activities at LARS. Link to the LARS website here - http://www.uaf.edu/lars/