Celebrate 50 years of McNeil River at the Bear Tooth!

Bear Tooth Theatre – Anchorage, AK

May 11, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m. 

This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Alaska State Legislature’s designation of McNeil River as a State Game Sanctuary in 1967.  It was an incredible thing for the State of Alaska to do in designating this protected area for the world’s largest congregation of brown bears gathering to feed on spawning Pacific salmon during the summer months.  Now, 50 years later, McNeil River has changed very little and the bears still “come first.”  McNeil has been called “an icon for the protection of wild places, and above all a living monument to the Alaskan brown bear.”  People from Alaska, and around the country and the world, who visit the sanctuary have incomparable wildlife experiences there every summer.


Come celebrate the 50th anniversary of McNeil and 50 years of brown bear conservation with stories and talks from some of the people who have spent time on the ground there.  Tom Walker (photographer and co-author of RIVER OF BEARS), Doug Chadwick (biologist and author), Colleen Matt (biologist and educator), Larry Aumiller (McNeil’s 30-year manager), Jeff Fair (author of IN WILD TRUST, the latest book about McNeil River), Clem Tillion (the legislator who helped designate McNeil in 1967), and others.  It should be a great night for wildlife stories and Alaskan brown bears.


“The longer I’m around this planet, the more privileged I feel to live in a place that we share with brown bears.”

-Richard Nelson, Encounters


Thursday, May 11 -7:30 p.m.

$10 General Admission

Sponsored by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and (FOMR) Friends of McNeil River. 

All proceeds will benefit Friends of McNeil River (FOMR).

All tickets, including reserved ticket booths, will go on sale Tuesday, April 25 online and at the Bear Tooth Ticket office.



Find Friends of McNeil River on Facebook.





Monday, April 18th, 2016 Presentation

Monday, April 18th, 2016 Presentation

The “River of Bears”.

Many of you had an opportunity to see the RIVER OF BEARS production this past winter at the UAA Planetarium in Anchorage and last summer in the Anchorage Museum’s planetarium, but for those that couldn’t because they live on other parts of the globe and are still enthusiastic about the McNeil River of Bears please see below:

RIVER OF BEARS is a stunning visual exploration of the McNeil River bears and the viewing program that has made McNeil one of the best wildlife watching experiences in the world.  Produced by the University of Alaska Anchorage and Open Lens Productions, the film has been a huge hit at the UAA Planetarium and the Anchorage museum.  But because the film could only be shown on a planetarium screen initially, it is now currently available to a wide audience as a DVD for home use.  Read more below

To make RIVER OF BEARS widely available to fans of McNeil River and bear aficionados all over the world, Open Lens Productions is transforming the planetarium film into a DVD version.  This transformation from the fulldome (planetarium) format to a regular screen is a complicated and expensive production.  But we feel strongly that wildlife films like this are a great way to help people understand why it is important to preserve and protect special places like McNeil.

Friends of McNeil River and Open Lens Productions currently sell this DVD on-line at their websites.  Jonathoan Van Ballenberghe donated 200 copies of the RIVER OF BEARS DVD to Friends of McNeil River for us to benefit from this wonderful production.  

McNeilRiverBearsFriends of McNeil River is proud to have provided a financial grant to assist in the educational production of the Planetarium version of the River of Bears. We hope you get a chance to view it and can help us make it available to a larger audience. Thank you.


Photo: River of Bears creative team Jonathan VanBallenberghe and Travis Rector. Philip Hall/University of Alaska Anchorage

Article: By  | January 13, 2014 – 5:15 pm

UAA Planetarium Offers Unique Look Into McNeil Bear Sanctuary

If you are lucky enough to get a permit, the McNeil River Sanctuary in Southwest Alaska offers an opportunity to safely get up close and personal with the largest congregation of brown bears in the world. Read more >>

“McNeil has a lottery system and at its peak, the odds are about 1 in 10 for getting in,” says Rector. “So there are a lot of people who want to go, but don’t get to go. What our planetarium can do is give you an immersive video experience and the sensation of being there.” 

Read full article here >>