November 23, 2017

A Walk Through the Alaska Zoo

Whenever we travel to a new destination, the animal lover in me always enjoys visiting the local zoo or aquarium.

Our recent visit to Alaska was no exception. Except this time, the local zoo wasn’t a new place to us. We’ve been there many times before.

The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska

The Alaska Zoo is a pretty special place - not only is it the only zoo in the entire state of Alaska, it has a proud, and extremely interesting, history dating all the way back to 1969. 

What started as a home for an elephant won in a contest (crazy, I know), has evolved into a home for orphaned and injured wildlife from across the state.

Situated on 25 acres on the Anchorage hillside, today The Alaska Zoo is a non-profit dedicated to promoting the conservation of arctic, sub-arctic and like-climate species through education, research and community enrichment. 

It also holds a special place in our hearts. When we lived in Anchorage, the Alaska Zoo gave me an opportunity to do something I love, experience some incredible adventures, meet some amazing people I still consider good friends and ultimately, hockey aside, was a large part of the reason we were able to stay in Alaska for three years.

And this visit around, I was very excited to be able to share it with Morley.

The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska
The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska

Allow me introduce you to some of my furry and feathery friends… 

Wandering down the trails, you’ll pass the two resident polar bears, wolverine, moose, red fox, Canadian lynx, musk ox, owls, eagles, and wolves just to name a few. Venturing further you’ll meet the resident porcupine, black bear, bald eagles, coyote, dall sheep, mountain goat and three brown bears. Jake, the Kodiak, is the oldest resident at the zoo and arrived in the 80s. Amur tigers and snow leopards, not found in Alaska but in similar climates elsewhere, also call the Zoo home. 

The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska
The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska

All of the animals come with a special story, and all play a big part in why the zoo is so popular amongst Anchorage residents and visitors.

For example, my pal Peabody the great horned owl (pictured above on the right) is missing a wing. As a result, he can't fly. And an owl that couldn't fly wouldn't be able to hunt for food or avoid predators in the wild, and therefore would not survive. Having been rescue and rehabilitated, he now has a permanent home at the Zoo and is a favourite amongst the school children he visits. 

The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska
The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska

That's Lauren the dall sheep and Maya the musk ox above. They both came to the Zoo at just a few days old. Lauren was separated from her herd in Nelchina, AK and Maya rejected by her mom shortly after birth.  I had the fortunate opportunity of working hands-on with both of them, harness training them and eventually being able to take them for walks on the Zoo trails and even off grounds for outreach. Now Maya is well over 200 lbs (with some pretty sharp horns), and a mama herself. 

You can say I have a pretty strong connection with the place. 

When the fact that I worked at the Zoo came up in conversation, Anchorage locals were never shy to tell me their own connections to the magical place. And I was always happy to listen. Whether it was remembering visiting the elephant as a child, having Peabody the great horned owl visit their classroom or just enjoying a Christmas-light lit stroll down the snow-covered trails, every person’s connection with the Alaska Zoo is unique, and just as special. Much like the animals that call this place home. 

The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska

If you are visiting the Anchorage area, I highly recommend scheduling time to visit the Alaska Zoo. Two hours is all you need to take the quick drive up the hillside, say hello to my furry and feathery friends and help support a place that does amazing things for conservation and the animals of Alaska. 

The Alaska Zoo
4731 O'Malley Road
Anchorage, AK 99507
Ph: 907-346-2133

Do you enjoy visiting zoos and aquariums in your travels? What one is you favourite? I’d love to hear! 

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