Here is our current project of focus for the remainder of 2018:
BP TO MATCH PRIVATE DONATIONS AS PART OF BROWN BEAR HABITAT UPGRADES
THANK YOU FOR MAKING OUR DREAMS COME TRUE FOR THE ZOO’S BROWN BEARS AND THEIR HABITAT!
We are excited to announce that BP has agreed to match up to $20,000 in private donations to upgrade our brown bear habitat in 2018 and we recently reached this funding goal! Donations made to the zoo’s general fund on behalf of the brown bears were matched dollar for dollar by BP. Supporters who donated maximized their dollar impact through this amazing opportunity. Together, we are breathing new life into the brown bear habitat for our resident bears whose long life spans and energetic behavior require the best we can offer them. We will all take pride in this new habitat when it is completed in the spring (after the bears wake from their winter’s sleep!).
We thank you again for your support of the Alaska Zoo and of the animals who call the zoo home.
As we approach our 50th anniversary in 2019, we are excited to have the funds in place.
* Any funds donated over and above cost of the project will be directed to the general fund for the care and feeding of all animals.
History and status of the zoo’s brown bear habitat
When the Alaska Zoo opened this habitat back in 1983, it was designed for two bears, Jake and his sister Jackie. Jake, a Kodiak brown bear, still resides here and is the zoo’s oldest resident at 36 years of age. Oreo is an orphan who arrived from Mt. Susitna, Alaska in 1998. Izzy came in 2010 as an orphan from King Cove, Alaska. It was not the zoo’s intention to house Izzy permanently, however it became necessary when funding plans at his receiving facility fell through. This placed our brown bear habitat over capacity.
If you have visited the zoo recently, you have likely noticed how hard the bears have been on their home. Their natural behaviors have killed the trees along with all new plant growth. The age of the habitat and worn appearance generates negative feelings for visitors who prefer to see variety for the bears. The indoor area also needs upgrades to the zookeeper space and mechanical room.
UPGRADES PLANNED FOR THE BROWN BEAR HABITAT as part of the bp matching funds:
Two 12-foot by 12-foot platforms which will provide shade and climbing.
A large boulder pile for climbing and exploring while searching for treats.
A wobbly tree enrichment structure which will consist of a stiff but flexible pole with a basket on top which can be filled with treats and toys. This encourages stretching, pushing, standing and problem solving.
A mechanical room remodel to include a prep area, a new water heater, utility sink and counter top work space.
New toys! Boomer Balls are toys made for bears, tigers and large animals living in zoos. They are indestructible with holes and grooves where treats and scents can be placed for sensory stimulation and problem solving.
Here is a small sampling of the projects we have completed over the past few years.
Little campbell creek restoration, integrated moose habitat
The Alaska Zoo is very pleased with the fish passage improvements to the creek. It was a great cooperative project and a pleasure to work with all the people involved. This endeavor has been “in the works" since around 2008. Many people were involved over the years. Some have left positions they were in while working on it. I hope they come out to see the fruits of their labor. ~ Patrick Lampi, Executive Zoo Director
We plan to relocate the moose to their new habitat in 2019. We completed their new area but needed to allow a season of vegetative growth before introducing the moose. We will update everyone as we move toward that final goal in 2019!
Phase I - polar bear transition, holding, maternity den facility
Phase I: Completed in 2016. The Transition Center provides the following:
A dedicated facility for orphaned, abandoned or injured cubs from the North Slope
Video monitoring capability
A holding den space for up to 6 polar bear cubs at a time
A maternity den for resident polar bears
These facilities bring the Alaska Zoo’s polar bear facility up to current standards for housing in today’s zoo guidelines by adding a natural substrate area
We have an increased ability to participate in research that benefits wild polar bears:
The zoo has a history of working with wildlife agencies, zoological facilities, universities and organizations to further the scientific knowledge and behavioral study of our animals. We are collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Clean Seas, Cincinnati and Memphis Zoos and the University of Alaska Anchorage on polar bear research.
Phase II will be the more "public side" of the project. This phase was planned to follow in quick succession after the completion of Phase I, however the economic climate of our state and funding challenges are sending us back to the drawing board in terms of a strategy and timeline. We must re-examine previous cost estimates and potentially revise our plans to make a realistic and successful approach moving forward. We will keep our supporters and donors updated as we develop these plans for Phase II.