Anchorage Zoo Memories

Do you know how the Alaska Zoo get started? Remember Annabelle the Elephant and Binky the Polar Bear? Check out this fun edition.

Annabelle the elephant - where it all began

Anchorage business man Jack Snyder owned the S&F Foodland grocery store located at Minnesota Drive and Spenard Road.

In 1966, Snyder won a prize - He could take a $3,000 dollar cash prize, or an elephant named Annabelle.

Fast forward to 1969 when the “Alaska Children’s Zoo” opened with Annabelle the elephant as the featured attraction along with assorted animals that were donated.

Annabelle the Artist

Do you recall that Annabelle was an “artist”? She painted. Yes she did.

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And when you do, your friends and family will want to make you the Person of the Year with your picture on the cover of your favorite magazine… well it could happen.

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A Fitting Marker

Annabelle died on December 15, 1997. And she was so loved that she was buried in the Alaska Zoo where the large marker pictured above pays tribute.

Today, the Alaska Zoo is home to over 100 bird and animal species that are spread over 25 acres hosting nearly 200,000 visitors each year.


Read more about the Alaska Zoo right now.

Binky the Polar Bear

Another zoo favorite was Binky the polar bear.

Back in 1975, Binky was an orphaned cub who was found near Cape Beaufort on the North Slope of Alaska.

When Binky was brought to the Alaska Zoo, Mike of Anchorage Memories was sent to the Zoo with KTVA channel 11 reported Tom Miller to get video of the cute little polar bear cub.

At the zoo, Mike was let inside a small enclosure with the cub.

“Binky was just this tiny ball of white fur and was very curious about me and my video camera. At one point I sat the camera down on the floor and Binky came up and licked the front of the lens. That remarkable footage was seen that evening on the 6 o’clock news.”

Some years later, Mike and his family visited the zoo and went to see Binky, who was now full grown and weighed 1,200 pounds. Mike remembered Binky, but was sure that Binky didn’t remember him.

Binky and the Shoe

On July 29, 1994 a 29 year old woman made news around the world when she decided to get closer so she could take a picture of Binky.

The woman jumped the safety rails and Binky stuck his head through the bars and grabbed her. The woman survived, but Binky had her shoe in his mouth (see the picture above). Binky kept the shoe for 3 days before zoo officials were able to retrieve it.


You can read more about Binky the Polar Bear right now.

Anchorage’s First Traffic Light

OK, on what street in Anchorage do you think they installed the very first traffic light?

If you could name one street in town that citizens think of as the most downtown street, it would likely be 4th Avenue.

Back in 1951, 4th Avenue became the home of Anchorage’s very first traffic light.

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Do You Know What This Is?

Located at 9401 W. Raspberry Road

It’s part of Kincaid Park which, at over 1,500 acres is one of the largest parks in Anchorage.

So what’s with the old building in the park?

During World War II, the park was a missile base.

Today, if you were in the park and looked closely, you’d notice that the chalet and some other buildings were converted from the old missile base bunkers.


Check out this interesting story about the Kincaid Park Missile Site right now.

First National Bank

Located on the corner of 4th and G Streets.

On the right side of the picture above you can see the First National Bank sign.

The bank was originally started back in 1922 by a candy maker named Winfield Ervin Founds.

But you may remember the bank for two memories.

There was a fish tank in the wall facing the 4th Avenue sidewalk. You could stand there and watch rainbow trout swimming around.

And inside the bank was an incredible collection of huge paintings by world famous Alaska artist and Anchorage resident Sydney Laurence.

Saturday March 27 was the 57th Anniversary

It’s hard to believe that Saturday March 27th marked the 57th anniversary of what has come to be known as the “Great Alaskan Earthquake”.

It was 5:36pm on Good Friday March 27, 1964 when the earth began to shake in Anchorage (and all over Alaska) like never before.

The Pacific Plate had lurched northward and under the North American Plate. The resulting earthquake measured 9.2 on the Richter Scale and lasted for 5 minutes.

A Tsunami followed, striking Crescent City, California and destroying the city’s business district.

Everyone who was in Anchorage during the quake has a story to tell.

Check out these Anchorage Great Alaskan Earthquake Stories right now.

You can also see rare 1964 earthquake pictures as well.

Easter Sunday

This edition of Anchorage Memories VIP Newsletter is your 2021 Easter gift from Mike and Mary of Anchorage Memories.

What are your Anchorage Easter Memories?

Mary of Anchorage Memories recalls her grade school years and enjoying Easter Egg Hunts at Goose Lake.

“I was there in my Easter bonnet and dress along with my brothers and sisters at the annual Goose Lake Easter Egg Hunt. Looking for the grand prize, a golden egg… which we never found. It was sometimes warm and sunny, although it was mostly cold and slushy. But Spring had come and we had fun.”

Here’s a question for you

If you won a contest and they told you that you could either claim a $3,000 cash prize, or an elephant… which would you choose? Remember, that was $3,000 dollars in 1966 money. Just imagine how much that would be today.

Do you want to send us a comment or just tell us “hey, I’d take the cash!” It’s very easy to contact us and we love hearing from our North Stars (that’s you).

You can either reply to this email, or you can Contact Us right now.

By the way, Mary took the cash… I took the elephant.

Until Next Time

Mike & Mary