The Alaska Zoo: A Fun and Historical visit

Do you ever have one of those amazing days that just comes out of the blue?  Yes, that happened to me on Friday.  My daughter has been asking for months to visit the Alaska Zoo.  However, I unfortunately do not have fond memories of the only real zoo I ever visited as a young child.  It was the Jacksonville, Florida zoo.  I can’t say the animals weren’t interesting back then, but I can say the weather was hot, my clothes were drenched in sweat by the end, and the gnats were eating me alive.  Thus, my 1980s zoo trip wasn’t the fondest.

When my daughter asked me to take her to the zoo, I was hesitant for a while.  However, Friday was expected to be a beautiful weather day.  One thing I have learned about Alaska is if the weather is nice, you must be outside.  If your house is dirty, who cares?  If you work from home like me, take it outside.  Basically, do anything to be outside. I figured… what better day to go to the zoo?  The weather is nice and my daughter and I can build a fun memory together.  I thought the opportunity was priceless.

Upon arrival at the Alaska Zoo, we met a nice older couple who just exited.  They were extremely excited about their visit, which actually made me excited.  They were visiting from Colorado and made Alaska their home in a rental R.V. for a solid month. The gentleman was so excited about his Alaskan vacation.  He bragged about how renting his R.V. back in October 2017 actually helped him save about $200.00 on his daily rental purchase.  I thought that was fantastic considered he stayed for about 30 days.  Yes, do the math, he did save a ton of money! (You can’t say I have never given you anything.  That was a HUGE tip on savings!)

Now, we had no idea what to expect because my daughter said she saw about 9 animals on the website.  However, after we purchased our tickets , we received a map and there were many more animals at the zoo than we anticipated.  This was going to be spectacular!  We made a vow to visit each one of the animals and not to rush the experience.

zoo image

The first animal we saw was a polar bear.  He (or she) was sleeping soundly and wasn’t very active.  After that, we saw the following: a porcupine, alpaca, camel, caribou, brown bear, snow leopard, black bear, yak, bald eagle, trumpeter swan, Amur tiger, wolves, moose, and much more.  Below are a few pictures we took.

The Brown Bear Exhibit was our favorite.  There were three of them and we watched them for about 20 minutes.
I am checking out my map beside the Moose exhibit.
Trumpeter Swan
Caris is pointing at a Mountain Goat.
A black baby seal relaxing in the sunshine
This is a Bactrian camel with two humps.  They come from African and Arabia. Camel humps store fat, not water.  (This is a major misconception that camels store water in their humps.)


After viewing the cute animals, we stopped by the Discovery Center.  It was essentially a brief historical journey of the zoo.  I discovered the Alaska Zoo was created by accident.  Annabelle was an 18 month old elephant who was won in a sales promotion by an Anchorage grocer named Jack Snyder in the late 1960s. Jack chose the elephant as his prize (versus $3000.00) to dazzle the community at the already planned event, “The Centennial Commission.” It was the 100th celebration of Alaska’s purchase from Russia.    A Centennial Zoo was already planned but what Jack did not know was the zoo wasn’t going to get approved due to lack of votes.

While Jack was figuring out what to do, Sammye Seawell, a serious, yet perfect-looking 1950’s housewife (see her photo below), offered a heated horse stall to Annabelle at her ranch. She and Jack eventually spoke of what to do with Annabelle. Sammye jumped at the chance to keep the baby elephant.  After all, she had fallen in love with her. Children wanted to meet Annabelle and the community was excited about her.  Of course, the Alaska Zoo was created with Annabelle being the first animal and the main attraction. The neatest thing I learned about this elephant is she became famous.  Many people, even celebrities, visited the zoo to get a glimpse of her.  She even began painting in 1991 and created pretty pieces that became t-shirts.  These t-shirts were sold all over the world.  There are many awesome photos of Annabelle at the Discovery Center but I will tease you with at least one board from the center called, “How we Began.”


You must visit the Alaska Zoo for the full exhibit!  What a cutie…
One of Annabelle’s originals

Did you think I was finished?  Nope, not yet… There was a cute seal named Onyx there. We saw Onyx pushing on the glass when we first arrived at her pool.  One of the employees told us that Onyx was orphaned very young and didn’t get enough time with her mother.  As a result, the little cutie spends some time suckling the glass every afternoon to sooth herself.  She then goes about her business playing, eating, and swimming.  She was adorable!

Onyx, the cute baby seal suckling the glass…

We hoped you enjoyed our visit.  Now, go out and make your own memories at The Alaska Zoo.