Alaska Zoo Invites Community to Celebrate International Polar Bear Day
Polar Dip’s new Cranbeary Special sandwich will raise funds for Alaska Zoo’s polar bears
Live footage from the Alaska Zoo’s Polar Bear Habitat.
ANCHORAGE—The Alaska Zoo has been dedicated to the conservation of Arctic and sub-Arctic species for 50 years; and on Feb. 27, the zoo will be celebrating one of the state’s most iconic animals on International Polar Bear Day. This annual holiday, hosted by Polar Bears International and celebrated around the globe, raises awareness about the challenges facing polar bears in the wild. Officially recognized as a threatened species, polar bears are struggling to hunt, breed and migrate because of rapid climate warming and sea ice loss.
The Alaska Zoo actively promotes conservation of Arctic and sub-Arctic species through educational programs and partnerships with organizations like Polar Bears International, Alaska Clean Seas, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USGS Alaska Science Center. The zoo’s knowledgeable team is also trained to be the first responders for polar bears who are impacted by emergencies on the North Slope in Alaska.
Now home to two polar bears, the Alaska Zoo’s 19-year-old male Lyutyik, also known as Lou, got a female companion in October 2018 when the zoo welcomed 16-year old Cranbeary. After a customary three-month isolation period in the maternity den, Cranbeary joined Lou, and they got along well from the first encounter. A live web cam now displays the polar bear pair’s comfortable habitat, complete with a chilled pool, fresh salmon and toys. Visitors may come to the zoo for entertainment and education, but they are also actively supporting the zoo’s conservation efforts.
“Many people don’t understand the challenges that polar bears face in the wild. Melting sea ice can separate them from their hunting grounds and isolate them from other bears,” said Patrick Lampi, Executive Director at the Alaska Zoo. “We hope to spread the message that we are all responsible and can all help by reducing our carbon footprint.”
Another way to participate is to visit local restaurant Polar Dip. The south Anchorage restaurant is marking International Polar Bear Day by adding a mouthwatering new menu item and kicking off a fundraiser for the Alaska Zoo. Available through the end of March, and named in honor of Cranbeary, the new Cranbeary Special sandwich is a turkey and cheddar melt with cranberry chutney. Available for $12, or $15 with a cup of soup, 50 percent of proceeds from sandwich sales will be donated to the zoo.
“When Cranbeary was in Denver, she and another bear favored a giant toy pickle, so we’re confident that is her favorite deli item! We look forward to using the funds raised by the Cranbeary Special to purchase a giant pickle toy for Cranbeary and Lyutyik to enjoy in their new shared habitat,” said Lampi.
Polar Dip is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located at 12100 Old Seward Road in Anchorage. In addition to raising funds for Cranbeary’s new toy with the Polar Dip sandwich, the restaurant will have a collection jar for donations for the Alaska Zoo’s general fund.
You can even get involved with International Polar Bear Day and support the Alaska Zoo even if you can’t make it Polar Dip or the zoo. Returning this year is “Perfectly Polar Bears.” The Alaska Zoo Distance Learning Program invites everyone to get up-close encounters and learn more about these Arctic icons and how they thrive during the winter season through virtual experiences, available February 25 to March 1. Those interested in learning more about the program or to reserve a date and time for their group should contact Alaska Zoo Distance Learning Coordinator Shannon Ozee at 907-341-6462 or [email protected].
It is also possible to support zoo include becoming an annual member, making a donation or “adopting” an animal. Visit the Alaska Zoo on International Polar Bear Day to learn more about the zoo’s conservation efforts and watch Cranbeary and Louie in their habitat. For more information visit www.AlaskaZoo.org.
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