Alaska Zoo

Alaska Zoo
Date opened 1969[1]
Location 4731 O'Malley Road, Anchorage, Alaska, 99507 USA
Coordinates 61°07′29″N 149°47′32″W / 61.124799°N 149.792131°W / 61.124799; -149.792131Coordinates: 61°07′29″N 149°47′32″W / 61.124799°N 149.792131°W / 61.124799; -149.792131
Land area 25 acres (10 ha) [1]
Number of animals 100 [1]
Number of species 35 (as of 2006)[2]
Annual visitors 200,000 [1]

The Alaska Zoo is a zoo located in Anchorage, Alaska located on 25 acres (10 ha) of the Anchorage Hillside. It is a popular attraction in Alaska, with nearly 200,000 visitors per year.[1]

The zoo is currently home to more than 100 birds and mammals[1] representing some 50 species. The zoo has the widest variety of animals native to the state of Alaska as well as some exotics such as Amur tigers, Bactrian camels, and yaks.

In addition to viewing, the zoo specializes in education, research, wildlife conservation, and animal rehabilitation; many of the animals currently in the zoo were found orphaned or injured.


Annabelle's grave, Alaska Zoo

In 1966, Anchorage grocer Jack Snyder won a contest offering a prize of "$3,000 or a baby elephant". He chose the elephant, a female Asian elephant named Annabelle. Annabelle was initially kept at the Diamond H Horse Ranch, located in the Hillside area of Anchorage and owned by Sammye Seawell, which had the only heated stalls available.[1]

With Annabelle's increasing popularity, Seawell formed a non-profit corporation to build a place "where the public could visit animals and learn about them." It was incorporated on March 28, 1968 as the Alaska Children's Zoo,[3] which opened in 1969 with Annabelle and other donated animals.[1] The zoo was located on land adjacent to Seawell's ranch. The zoo's name was changed to Alaska Zoo in June 1980.[3]

In 1983, a female African elephant named Maggie arrived at the Alaska Zoo as a companion for Annabelle.[4]

The zoo attracted some attention, even outside Alaska, in 1994 when Binky, then one of the zoo's polar bears, injured several visitors who entered his enclosure, famously pacing with an Australian woman's shoe dangling from his mouth (the current polar bear exhibit is human-proof).

In 1997, Annabelle died, leaving her companion, Maggie alone.[4] In 2004, in spite of mounting criticism, Alaska Zoo officials decided to keep Maggie in Alaska for at least three more years, rather than sending her to an elephant sanctuary in a warmer climate, where she could also socialize with other elephants. As of June 6, 2007, she was moved to the PAWS sanctuary in California.[5]

Notable animals

Annabelle (1964–1997), an Asian elephant

Annabelle, an Asian elephant, was born in India in 1964. In 1966, in a Chiffon Tissue contest sponsored by Crown Zellerbach, she was offered as an alternative prize between "$3,000 or a baby elephant". The prize-winner, Anchorage grocer Jack Snyder, chose the elephant. Annabelle was initially kept at the Diamond H Horse Ranch, located in the Hillside area of Anchorage and owned by Sammye Seawell, which had the only heated stalls available.[1][6] Annabelle was one of the first animals when the zoo was founded as the Alaska Children's Zoo in 1969, along with several orphaned and injured animals in need of homes, including a black bear, seal, Arctic fox, and petting zoo goats.[6]

Annabelle died of complications of a foot infection[6] on December 15, 1997.[4]

Binky (1975–1995), a polar bear

Main article: Binky (polar bear)

Maggie (1983– ), an African elephant

Maggie, an African elephant, came to the Alaska Zoo in 1983 as a companion for Annabelle. Maggie originated in Zimbabwe, Africa, where her herd had been culled — selectively destroyed to reduce numbers — leaving her in need of a home.[4] Maggie is also known as having the first elephant treadmill in the world.

In 2007, Maggie was moved to the PAWS sanctuary in California.[7]

Current species

Conservation efforts

The Alaska Zoo is proactive in its conservation efforts and research, as well as education programs.[8] The zoo is a part of the Species Survival Program for tigers and snow leopards, and the Polar Bear International helping with the conservation of polar bears. Also, the zoo is involved in animal husbandry and research on a variety of scales in part with the University of Alaska Anchorage.[9]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "The history and mission statement of the Alaska Zoo". Alaska Zoo. 2008-09-19. Archived from the original on 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
  2. Alaska Zoo. (2006-04-17). Alaska Zoo (official website). Retrieved on 2007-04-17. Count as of April 16, 2006 includes 12 bird species (mostly indigenous to Alaska), 16 indigenous mammal species, and 7 exotic mammal species, including 4 which are classified as endangered.
  3. 1 2 Corporations Database. Alaska Zoo. Division of Corporations, Business & Professional Licensing, Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. Retrieved on 2007-04-17.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Maggie, an African Elephant". Alaska Zoo. 2006-04-17. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2007-04-17.
  5. Kershaw, Sarah. (2005-01-09). "A 9,000-pound fish out of water, alone in Alaska." The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-04-17.
  6. 1 2 3 "In Memory of Annabelle, 1964-1997". Alaska Zoo. 2006-04-17. Archived from the original on 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2007-04-17.
  7. "Friends of Maggie". Archived from the original on 2008-03-24.
  8. Alaska Canters. "Alaska Zoo Programs". Alaska Centers: Public Lands Information. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  9. "Conservation Efforts". The Alaska Zoo. Retrieved 2 May 2011.

External links

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