Join us Saturday, January 20th from 11am to 1pm at the Alaska Zoo for our annual Polar Bear Birthday event, combined with a Celebration of Life for Ahpun our polar bear (1998-December 31, 2017).
Enrichment for Lyutyik: Arrive at the zoo BEFORE 11am (zoo opens at 10am). Lyutyik will be let into his habitat at 11am to access his enrichment, so be sure to arrive early between 10am and 11am!
Ahpun slideshow by John Gomes in the Gateway Hall.
Silent auction in the Gateway Hall of donated, original artwork of Ahpun.
- 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 viewing area and 2018 zoo calendar give-aways at the event (supplies limited).
- 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.
While it will be difficult to hold this annual event without Ahpun, we must push on to provide the best care possible for our male Lyutyik. We hope you will join us. We rely on the support of the community during sad times like these. We hope you will join us from 11am to 1pm on January 20th.
Official announcement of Ahpun's passing (released 1/2/2018): 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.