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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Orphaned brown bear cubs leave for new home on January 10th

Alaska Zoo News: Cold Bay brown bear cubs leave for their new home in South Dakota on January 10th.

Visit them from January 3rd through 9th at the Alaska Zoo and say farewell!

The two brown bear cubs from Cold Bay, Alaska will be heading to their new home at the South Dakota Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on January 10th. They will be up and about for visitors to see from January 3rd to 9th. Come visit the cubs and wish them farewell! Photo by John Gomes, www.akjohn.com.


Zoo Lights nightly through January 7th


Our dazzling Zoo Lights displays will be lit up along zoo trails nightly from 5-8pm from now through January 7th, 2018. We are offering this extended schedule to allow for maximum lights viewing during the holiday break. Please note that the zoo is closed on December 25th (Christmas Day).

Tickets are $6 per zoo member (ages 3 and up) and $8 per non-member (ages 3 and up). Ages 2 and under are FREE. Entry for Zoo Lights may be purchased at the admissions gate during Zoo Lights hours or tickets may be purchased online in advance.

To purchase tickets online in advance, click here. You will receive your tickets in your confirmation email (scroll down in attachments). Simply print them and bring them with you to Zoo Lights or give them as a gift to another lucky person! Each ticket is one-time use and valid during open Zoo Lights hours.

Thank you to BP for their annual sponsorship of Zoo Lights!

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Christmas for the Animals event was a huge success!

The staff, volunteers and animals of the Alaska Zoo were pleased to welcome over 2,000 visitors on December 10th, 2017 for our annual Christmas for the Animals celebration. This event has been a mainstay for zoo supporters, particularly annual zoo members, for over two decades now. Fuzzy red stockings are hung by the animal habitats with care, in hopes that zoo visitors soon will be there! And they come in crowds pulling sleds and wagons full of food donations which are stuffed in the oversize stockings. We rely on food donations throughout the year such as frozen fish, frozen meat, produce, peanuts and more to make dietary ends meet for zoo animals. We appreciate the support of all who came and brought food, joined us by the bonfire for caroling, made purchases in the Gift and Coffee Shops and shared in Zoo Lights with us. We want to provide a very special thank you to Kaladi Brothers Coffee for providing free coffee and cocoa for zoo visitors. It was a magical evening and we hope you will share it with us again in 2018!

Zoo Animal Updates

The animals of the Alaska Zoo us busy 24/7! Here are some updates and highlights. We want you to have the "scoop"...the news scoop, that is. Not the other kind!

  • Our river otters recently received a new extension area in their habitat for the purpose of allowing more enrichment and activity choices. Zoo photographer John Gomes was there to capture the highlights in this awesome video. The otters always bring a smile to our faces!
  • If you are a regular visitor at the zoo, you may notice that our Dall sheep and mountain goat have done a switch-a-roo of habitats. Zoo staff have signs posted at their enclosures. This was done to provide some interest for them as they explore the forbidden territory of their next door neighbor.
  • Our famous talking magpie George has been moved temporarily to the summer short-eared owl enclosure while some repairs are made to the magpie exhibit netting.

There is never a dull moment at the Alaska Zoo!