Exploring Anchorage, Alaska: Binky the Polar Bear and the Alaska Zoo

by Janis on August 22, 2011

We are visiting Mr. Jones’ hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, and staying in what Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry calls a “two-bear” hotel. Seeing the two bears in the lobby reminded Mr. Jones of one Barry’s columns on Alaska from 1995.

In his DON’T FEED THE TOURISTS column, Barry writes about “Binky” — a polar bear at Anchorage’s zoo — who became famous after chomping on a tourist that climbed two fences to get closer to him.

Binky died in 1995 but he’s immortalized in a Wikipedia page with a photo of him with the tourist’s tennis shoe in his mouth.

Reading about “Binky” made me curious, so on Sunday we drove to 4731 O’Malley Road to experience the Alaska Zoo.

The Alaska Zoo focuses on arctic, sub-arctic and similar climate species living mainly in outdoor enclosures where you can visit them year round. More than half of the animals ended up at the zoo because they were injured, abandoned, or orphaned.

Some of our favorite animals:

The Amur tigers

The black bears

The snow leopard

Love this cat’s enormous tail.

The  brown bears

 The lynx, the only cat native to Alaska. It’s large furry paws that act as snow shoes.

And the polar bears, of course. Notice the tall, secure bars to protect those who think it’s a good idea to climb over fences to get closer to wild animals.

Take a shuttle from downtown Anchorage

The Alaska Zoo  is open daily year round except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you are visiting downtown Anchorage during the summer, you can catch a shuttle bus to the zoo. The bus picks up visitors six times a day at 4th and F Street, next to the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau Log Cabin, with hourly return trips.

Have you been to the Alaska Zoo? What’s your favorite animal?

If you have children and are planning to explore Alaska with them, check out AK on the GO,  a blog that focuses on with kid-friendly activities and travel in Alaska. 

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