Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2007

Zoo board looks for Maggie's new home

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ANCHORAGE - The board of the Alaska Zoo could decide this week on a new home for Maggie the elephant.

Zoo director Pat Lampi said eight institutions have offered to take the 25-year-old African elephant. He planned to present a list Wednesday night to the board.

Lampi would not say what institutions were on the preliminary list, only that it includes both zoos and sanctuaries. He said several have requested not to be named publicly because they do not want to be unnecessarily embroiled in the Maggie controversy if they are not picked.

Maggie - the only elephant in Alaska - has attracted national attention over the last several years as public pressure to move her has grown. Local and national activists have lobbied hard to relocate her to a warmer place where she can be with other elephants. The American Zoo and Aquarium Association, which accredits zoos, recommends elephants be housed with other elephants because they are highly social creatures.

"We are looking for the best possible situation for Maggie," Lampi said.

The zoo hopes to have Maggie moved by the end of the summer.

The elephant, originally from South Africa, has been at the Alaska Zoo since 1983.

The board voted last month on the relocation, citing various conditions to be met, including enlisting independent veterinarians to ensure that Maggie is healthy enough to move and could withstand the stress involved.

Calls for Maggie's relocation were fueled this spring when she lay down on her side in her stall twice and couldn't get up on her own. The Anchorage Fire Department was called in both times to get her back up.

Vets believe Maggie might have had colic, prompted by a change in her hay.

Elephant veterinarians still need to check Maggie to see if she can make the trip. She also needs to be crate trained, and no one knows how long that will take.

Zoo officials also will have to put together the logistical puzzle of flying an animal estimated at 8,000 pounds from Alaska to somewhere in the Lower 48.

Man dies in collision with wife's motorcycle

FAIRBANKS - A motorcyclist died from head injuries suffered in a collision with another bike driven by his wife, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Meg Peters said Wednesday.

Troopers identified the victim as John Jones, 64, of North Pole.

His wife, 51-year-old Colleen Jones, was southbound on University Avenue in Fairbanks on Tuesday night. When making a left turn onto the Johansen Expressway, her motorcycle collided with the accompanying motorcycle driven by her husband, authorities said.

The two motorcycles were being driven in the same lane, troopers said.

Both were taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. John Jones was not wearing a helmet and died from head injuries. His wife was wearing a helmet, troopers said.

Man pleads guilty in wife's death

ANCHORAGE - A 23-year-old Tatitlek man has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in the death of his wife, Alaska State Troopers said.

Matthew Kompkoff earlier pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the October stabbing death of Kelly Kompkoff. On Tuesday, he entered a guilty plea to second-degree murder, troopers said.

Kelly Kompkoff died last October on board a medical transport flying her from Valdez to Anchorage after she suffered knife wounds.

Alaska State Troopers called the incident in Tatitlek - located about 30 miles east of Valdez near Bligh Island - a domestic violence assault.

Sentencing is scheduled for November.

North Kenai fire victim identified

NORTH KENAI, Alaska - A 62-year-old woman was killed in a fire at her retirement home apartment, officials said Wednesday.

The victim was identified as Martha McMullen, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

The cause of the early Tuesday fire at the Chuda House apartment was under investigation.

Firefighters had the fire out within a half hour of their arrival. Authorities said the apartment was filled with heat and smoke, but not many flames.

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