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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