A Unique Zoo


The Alaska Zoo is unique in many ways. We are one of the only zoos in the United States to feature primarily Arctic animal species. We are also very unique in the fact that 90% of our animals are either orphaned or have been injured in the wild. We also place great value on the naturally wooded grounds of our zoo which highlight the beauty of Alaska. Visitors often comment that our zoo feels like a walk in the woods and we try to keep it that way through the maintenance of natural trails. The Alaska Zoo is cozy and we try to provide the best possible environment for the animals in our care and the people who come to visit.

But the most unique thing about the Alaska Zoo is the people. The people who work here are some of the most dedicated and hardworking people you are ever likely to meet. Many of the zookeepers, educators and facilities staff members have been employees for well over 10 years, a few for more than 20 and our Executive Director Pat Lampi has been with the zoo for more than 30 years. It is this dedication and commitment to the zoo and the animals that makes the Alaska Zoo such a special place.

When we look at this dedication to the Alaska Zoo’s mission, we see many examples each day – too many to list here! One recent example is our upcoming Used Book Sale to be held on Saturday, March 24th from 11am to 5pm in the zoo’s Gateway Hall. The idea for this event was developed by the zoo’s Enrichment Coordinator, one of the zookeeping staff members. She wanted to do something new and different that would help raise money for the animals. She took her idea to other dedicated staff members in Education and Development who helped in their way through making the flyer, advertising the event and getting the word out. Our dedicated Gift Shop staff are collecting the used book donations through March 22nd in advance of the sale on March 24th.

With a strong and dedicated team, the Alaska Zoo will continue to grow and flourish into the future. We hope you will join us for this book sale on March 24th, 11am to 5pm. Just come to the Alaska Zoo Gateway Hall, located outside of the zoo entrance. If you are only coming for the book sale or shopping in our Gift Shop, you don’t have to pay an entry fee to the zoo since the building is outside of the gate. All proceeds from the sale go directly to the zoo’s General Fund, the money used to care for animals and continue zoo operations. The zoo would not be the special place it is today without the hard work of its long-time staff members, the enthusiasm of new employees, the dedication of our volunteers and the unflinching support of our donors and community. We are very grateful to be who we are and located where we are – in Alaska!

That's a Wrap! Zoo Lights ends for another winter season


Feel free to leave your comments on your visit to Zoo Lights this past season. Share your memories with us! Comments at the bottom of this page.

Did you have a chance to come to Zoo Lights this 2017/2018 season? We had a great time showing visitors our dazzling, custom light displays that lit up zoo trails during the dark, winter nights. The lights turn on each winter on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, the so-called Black Friday. We run the lights Thursday through Sunday evenings throughout the winter up to early March (the last day for this season was March 4). We even offer nightly Zoo Lights over winter break for families to enjoy while the kids are off of school.

We would like to extend our gratitude and appreciate for our Zoo Lights sponsor, BP. Their annual support for Zoo Lights helps us to continue offering this incredible opportunity for all visitors. THANK YOU, BP!

We wanted to post a gallery of images taken by John Gomes at Zoo Lights. We hope you enjoy the image and check back for the next round in Zoo Lights in November 2018!

Daily Critter Chats with Zookeepers and Educators


Critter Chats are daily, informal talks between visitors on our trails and our zookeeping or education staff members.

Times and locations are scheduled and information will be available at admissions when you enter the zoo. We also have Critter Chats on our Calendar of Events page (February online, March dates/topics coming soon!). The topics and place to meet on zoo grounds are listed on the calendar by date.

Regular admission rates and membership use apply, no extra fees. Just pay to come in the zoo or use your annual membership and get free entry! The Critter Chats are on us!

Times and topics subject to change based on the needs of the animals. Check the sign at admissions on the day of your visit to verify the Critter Chat schedule.

Avitus Group "Bear Hugs" Adoption Challenge


Adopt a zoo animal before February 14th, 2018 and Avitus will donate a stuffed bear to a child staying in the hospital!

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Avitus Group and the Alaska Zoo are sharing the love this Valentine’s Day with children who are spending the month of February at the Children’s Hospital at Providence in Anchorage. The two organizations are partnering to deliver multiple black bear and brown bear animal adoptions paired with stuffed polar bears from the zoo’s gift shop to children in the hospital. Children will also receive a coupon for a behind the scenes tour of the zoo and 2 admit one passes. The organizations are inviting the public to become involved. For each Alaska Zoo animal adoption through February 14th, Avitus Group will match the donation by providing a stuffed polar bear for a child spending the holiday in the hospital.

“We love supporting the mission of the Alaska Zoo and the educational opportunities the zoo provides for our youth in Alaska. Offering that support while making a child smile during a tough time in their life is something we’re committed to doing each year as we partner with the zoo and with the community.”
— Avitus Group Public Relations Manager Dianne Parker

Kids FREE ENTRY on February 10th for our Valentines for the Animals event


2018 Valentines for the Animals at the Alaska Zoo

Saturday, February 10th

FREE ENTRY FOR KIDS (ages 17 and under) from 10am to 4pm, last public entry at 3:30pm.

All children under 13 years must be accompanied by an adult.

One adult required for every five children.

Note: Zoo Lights will be open in the evening, 6:30pm to 8:30pm, regular Zoo Lights rates apply (no free entry for kids after 3:30pm).

The Alaska Zoo is sharing the love in 2018! Join us for KIDS FREE admission to the zoo (ages 17 and under) on Saturday, February 10th between 10am and 4pm (last entry at 3:30pm). This is also the day of our annual Valentines for the Animals event where visitors make valentines for zoo animals at our card craft station, then deliver the cards to the large envelopes placed along the trails at each animal habitat.

Event activities will be happening from Noon to 3pm. The card station will be in the Coffee Shop Greenhouse with all of the supplies on hand to make awesome valentines, along with free hot chocolate for a warm-up (while supplies last). Our Discovery Center will be open if you wish to stop in and learn about the zoo’s history through pictures. The Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will be open for business as well. Our zookeepers will have valentine-themed enrichment happening for animals throughout the zoo, with scheduled times and locations posted for visitors during the event.

Why not share the love all year long! Become an annual zoo member and receive free entry for one year from the date of purchase. We offer many member perks including an a’ la carte system to design the membership that fits your needs, seasonal discounts in the Gift Shop, discounts on certain special events, discounts on Adventure Camps for ages 6-12, options for guest passes and more. We now offer membership sales and renewals online through our new website! It is convenient to join and memberships make great gifts for the animal lovers in your life.

Valentines for the Animals event contact: Heather Doncaster, hdoncaster@alaskazoo.org

Update for January 20th: Ahpun's Celebration of Life & Polar Bear Birthday Event

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UPDATE: We are still reeling from the unexpected passing of our 20-year-old female polar bear, Ahpun. As we approach January 20th and the polar bear birthday/memorial event, our plans for Ahpun's celebration of life are coming together. We appreciate your patience during this time.


  • Enrichment for Lyutyik: Arrive at the zoo BEFORE 11am (zoo opens at 10am). Lyutyik will be let into his habitat at 11am for his enrichment, so arrive between 10am and 11am!
  • Ahpun slideshow by John Gomes (Gateway Hall).

  • Silent auction (Gateway Hall) of donated, original Ahpun art.

    • We will be auctioning the illustrations from the Ahpun and Oreo book "Two Bears There" by long-time zoo supporter, illustrator and children's book author Dianne Barske. Dianne has written and illustrated children's books inspired by Alaska Zoo animals and led art program on zoo grounds for kids for over two decades

    • We will be auctioning an original painting of Ahpun by local artist Tracey Pilch. Tracey has a long-time passion for painting wildlife and Alaska Zoo animals. For the past decade, she taught as an adjunct arts professor in Anchorage. Tracey completed this tribute painting of Ahpun following the news of her passing and will donate 100% of the sale proceeds from this painting to the Alaska Zoo.
    • We will be auctioning a painting by local artist Chantelle Marie Swayne. Chantelle Marie is an Autralian-born, Alaska-based artist. Self-taught, she brings elements of nature, emotion and experience together with vibrant colors and unique designs to bring her acrylic paintings to life. Chantelle will donate 50% of her painting's sale to the zoo.
  • Famous Alaskan artist and long-time zoo supporter Jon Van Zyle will unveil his original artwork of Ahpun with Lyutyik (our male) titled "Looking Back". Signed prints will be made in the next month, however the original art will be revealed at this event.
  • Learn about animal adoptions at booth in Gateway Hall. Visit our Gift Shop to buy Ahpun memorabilia, including "Two Bears There" Ahpun and Oreo books.
  • S'mores at the polar bear area (while supplies last).
  • Coloring station for kids in the classroom (lower level Gateway Building).
  • We will have a display in the Gateway Hall for people to attach their own photos and written memories of Ahpun, so please bring your favorite printed photo of Ahpun or a written/printed memory of her to leave on our display. All ages are welcome to share their memories. If you wish to have your pictures back, write your name and number on the back. We suggest bringing prints you don't mind leaving on the display.  

Thank you for helping us through this difficult time by joining us in remembering the good times we had with Ahpun. She touched so many lives in her 20 years on this planet and she was an amazing ambassador for her species. We will always hold her dear in our hearts.

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KTUU Article on Ahpun Painting by Jon Van Zyle

Alaskan Artist Jon Van Zyle to paint an original poster design of Ahpun (with Lyutyik in background) in honor of Ahpun's passing. This image (below, taken by Jon Van Zyle) is the painting in progress which will be revealed at our Polar Bear Birthday & Celebration of Life for Ahpun on Saturday, January 20th from 11am to 1pm. The painting will be on display and prints will be made soon after the event and sold to the public.

See the KTUU article here


We Miss You, Ahpun. RIP 1998- 12/31/2017.

Join us for a Celebration of Ahpun's life at our annual Polar Bear Birthday event on January 20th, 2018 from 11am to 1pm.

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our beloved polar bear, Ahpun. Zoo staff has had the privilege of taking care of her since her arrival as a cub in 1998, and are devastated with this loss. Ahpun was in good condition and had shown no signs of poor health at anytime leading up to her death. A necropsy was performed by veterinary staff and we are awaiting final results as to the cause of her death. We know Ahpun was well-loved by our community, so this year's Polar Bear Birthday will also include a celebration of life for her at the zoo on January 20th, 2018 from 11am to 1pm.


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