When Anchorage grocer Jack Snyder won a contest in 1966, he had the option to pick $3,000 or a baby elephant as his prize. He picked the elephant, and she was soon delivered to his doorstep. Annabelle, who had previously worked for a circus, was the first pachyderm to live in Alaska since the ice age. And she was the first animal at the Alaska Zoo.
Sammye Seawell ended up housing Annabelle at her horse ranch and eventually adopted the little elephant. After Annabelle became popular with locals, Seawell decided to start the Alaska Zoo to provide a place for the children of Anchorage to visit animals and learn about them. The zoo’s animal residents have increased over the years, and today more than 130 animals representing 53 Arctic and sub-Arctic species, many of which are endangered, call the zoo home.
A few years ago, the zoo approached the Murdock Trust with a project to revamp its exhibit signage, which was sparse and in dire need of updating. A grant helped the zoo design and purchase new signage, both informational and interactive, as well as directional signs and an electronic reader board to announce events and activities. The result is a greater educational component for visitors and an overall more colorful and informative zoo experience.
The Trust is proud to support Alaska’s only zoological park and the important role it plays in teaching visitors about Arctic and sub-Arctic animals.