The Polar Bear Project

(Scroll box donor names are alphabetical by last name, business names inserted by first letter)

The Polar Bear Project Home Page

DONATE ONLINE and we will add you to the scrolling donor box

Contact: Jill Myer (Development Director) at or Patrick Lampi (Executive Director) at

Current Polar Bear Project Offerings Online

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR BINKY PRINT ONLINE TODAY! Do you have fond memories of visiting Binky the polar bear during his life at the Alaska Zoo? He arrived as an orphan in 1975 and had his 15 minutes of fame (or more) after the incident with the Australian tourist in 1994. He passed in 1995 and was memorialized by hundreds who came to pay their respects.

We are now offering a limited edition print of Binky for sale. This print was designed by the late Alaskan master painter Fred Machetanz, who gave the zoo a small number of them to use for raising funds. We think the Polar Bear Project is the perfect cause! There are only 100 of these prints available. They are 16x20 inches and unframed. The cost per print for online orders is $90.00 and this includes all shipping costs. If you order them online, we will ship them to you or to the lucky gift recipient of your choice. You can also stop by our Gift Shop to purchase prints. Don't delay - these prints are selling fast already!

Order polar bear mugs online. We ship them for you! Mugs in our Gift Shop are $10 each OR order online in two-mug sets for $35 per set (includes two mugs and shipping). Three set choices available online. Click to order.

Photo above: The Polar Bear Transition Center is outlined in yellow.

Polar Bear Project Overview:

The Polar Bear Project is being designed by the Portico Group, an award-winning architectural firm located in Seattle, Washington. Watterson Construction of Anchorage will be the general contractor on the project. The $8 million project will be built in two phases. Phase I is devoted to the Polar Bear Transition Center, a dedicated facility to care for polar bear cubs coming from the North Slope. Phase II focuses on the expanded natural substrate (yard) and water feature with an elevated public viewing area. Our goal is to break ground on Phase I in 2014 and complete the Polar Bear Transition Center in the fall of 2015 to help celebrate the Anchorage Centennial. 

Phase 1: The Polar Bear Transition Center

  • Funding Goal for Phase I: $1.87 million. We have this phase 75% funded ($1.4 million).
  • The Transition Center will:
    • Provide a dedicated facility for the care of orphaned, abandoned or injured cubs coming from the North Slope
    • Be equipped with video monitoring capability
    • Provide holding den space for up to 6 polar bear cubs at a time
    • Provide a maternity den for resident polar bears
    • Update our current facility to today’s standards by adding a natural substrate area
    • Increase our ability to participate in research projects that may benefit the wild populations of polar bears
      • The zoo has a history of working with wildlife agencies, zoological facilities, universities and organizations to further the scientific knowledge and behavioral study of our animals. We are collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Clean Seas, Cincinnati and Memphis Zoos and the University of Alaska Anchorage on polar bear research.

Phase II will be the more "public side" of the project, estimated at $6 million. Phase II will add the following elements to complete the project:

  • Add a braided water stream feature
  • Give the bears distance viewing opportunities
  • Feature an elevated walkway for unencumbered views of the bears
  • Double our capacity for adult bears - 3 females and 1 male
  • Triple the size of our polar bear habitat by adding 24,000 square feet

Why Begin This Project Now?

This is the first major expansion project on an animal habitat at the Alaska Zoo in 15 years.  We have been busy working on infrastructure projects such as the animal infirmary and commissary which serve all of the permanent and temporary residents of the zoo. This is a good time to move forward on this project for polar bears because of:

  • Increased global interest in polar bears
  • Increased behavioral choices for our polar bears by offering natural substrate areas and the ability to be separated. This would update our current facility to today's standards.
  • Add a new genetic line to captive polar bears if our bears produce an offspring
  • Increase capabilities to conduct research
  • Increase the zoo's capacity to four adult polar bears, three females and one male

"The Alaska Zoo is an incredible asset to the citizens of Anchorage and to Alaskans, along with being a top destination for visitors" ~ Mayor Dan Sullivan

"Not only would this expansion provide an improved facility for the education of the public on Arctic ecosystems and polar bears, it would also improve the zoo's ability to care for orphaned cubs and provide new research opportunities on captive bears that may benefit their wild counterparts" ~ Elizabeth LaVerne Smith, Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service