It is no San Diego Zoo by any means. Actually, it doesn't even come close to the variety of specimens in the one in Salt Lake City. But that is the beauty of the Alaska Zoo. You will NOT find elephants or giraffes or lions here. Why? Well, frankly, they'd freeze their butts off here. So, you will only find native species and several foreign animals that can survive the harsh winter conditions of this region.
It's a small facility in comparison to zoo standards, but this has become a favorite destination for the fam. Yes, even including myself. Before, a trip to the zoo meant hot sticky heat, the sun baking the top of my head, and ice cream melting down in rivulets down the girls' arms. Here, it's a cool respite walking through the gravel trails winding through the wooded grounds.
They have a pair of adult polar bears with an orphaned cub coming soon. Anybody recall that clip of a polar bear grabbing a dumb woman who jumped over a railing to take a closer picture on "When Animals Attack"? Yep, that happened here. And Binky the polar bear is just fine.
One of the girls' favorites is the pair of bull moose. One of the great things with small zoos is that the kids can take their time and observe their favorites and get to know their personalities. (There is a neurotic wolverine that runs non-stop in circles around his pen, and Sophie loves going there just to say, "Still at it, huh?") Dylan loves watching the grizzlies play around and try to swipe at the birds pecking at their food. I, myself, like to observe the ravens (I know, exciting, huh?) push their food out of their cages to feed the wild ravens who come for a visit.
The zoo is also open in the winter, and many come pulling sleds instead of strollers then. I love the fenced in trails, the girls like to run ahead a bit, and I don't feel they'll disappear somewhere.
The fam purchased an annual membership ($85 or so for a military fam) and we have gone five times in the last four months we've been here. This summer, the girls are requesting to visit at least once a week. We are definitely getting our money's worth. We are looking forward to booking our VIP tour that will let us tail a zookeeper for a couple hours and have up-close encounters with the big animals.
If you haven't come by yet, do so. Just don't expect a big city zoo. This is Alaska, after all, and everything here must be done in Alaska fashion.