Polar bear Ahpun dies after nearly 20 years at Alaska Zoo

In this Sept. 5, 2012 photo, Ahpun, a female polar bear, strolls around her cage at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska. The popular polar bear died unexpectedly on New Year’s Eve the zoo said Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (Dan Joling | The Associated Press File)

ANCHORAGE — A beloved polar bear at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage has died.


A zookeeper Sunday found Ahpun, who was about 20 years old, dead during morning rounds.

Zoo director Patrick Lampi says Ahpun had shown no signs of illness and a necropsy found no cause of death. Tissue will be sent out for additional analysis.

Ahpun was orphaned in 1998 near Point Lay on Alaska’s northwest coast. A man returning from a fishing trip unknowingly approached a den and Ahpun’s mother charged.

The fisherman shot the bear in self-defense and determined she had emerged from a den. The fisherman crawled inside and found the cub.

Ahpun grew from a 31-pound cub into a 700-pound adult.

The zoo also has a male polar bear, nicknamed Louie.


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