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  • Writer's pictureLynn Lovegreen

The Alaska Zoo

The Alaska Zoo (https://www.alaskazoo.org) is a longtime part of the Anchorage community. It all started with a baby elephant.


In 1966, the company Crown Zellerbach held a contest for the best issue sales, with a prize of $3000 or a baby elephant. When Alaska grocer Jack Snyder won, he asked for the elephant. They shipped up baby Annabelle, and she ended staying at Sammye Seawell’s Diamond H horse ranch in south Anchorage. As Annabelle grew, so did her group of fans, and soon Seawell built bigger accommodations with public access. Then wildlife officials asked her to take care of Tuffy the orphaned black bear cub and Sally the orphaned Arctic fox. Before long, the Alaska Zoo was born. It is still primarily for orphaned and injured animals who can’t live on their own in the wild.


Brown bears at the Alaska Zoo: enclosure with two brown bears sitting on the ground
Brown bears at the Alaska Zoo

I grew up on nearby Fort Richardson, and I recall visiting Annabelle when she was still a small elephant. I have fond memories of going to the zoo, and later took my own daughter there when she was little. Now, my grandson has been introduced to the place. While Annabelle and her friends have long passed away, the legacy lives on with bears, wolves, snow leopards, musk ox, and many more animals adapted for our Alaska climate.


Snow leopard at the Alaska Zoo: side view of snow leopard behind glass enclosure window
Snow leopard at the Alaska Zoo


Right now, locals are excited about the wolverine family. It’s unusual for wolverines to have kits in captivity, but our couple is raising their second litter this year. It’s exciting to see the little ones following their mother around and playing like we’re not even there. I thank the zoo for offering us a glimpse of what animals do in the wild, and I encourage folks to support the zoo and other programs that educate the public and help preserve our wild animals.


Wolverines at the Alaska Zoo: mother and kit wolverines in fenced enclosure climbing on logs
Wolverines at the Alaska Zoo

Here’s a YouTube link to my video of the wolverines:

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