In the late 1960s, Anchorage's grocers held a contest to see who could sell the most toilet paper. One of two first-place prizes was $3,000, but the victor chose the other—a baby Asian elephant. He quickly realized he couldn't take care of her, so he put her up in the heated barn of local horse rancher Sammye Seawell. Sammye fell so in love with this small pachyderm that she began housing other abandoned creatures—enough to fill a zoo. More than 40 years later, The Alaska Zoo's keepers and staff continue this simple but powerful mission: to rescue orphaned, injured, and captive-born animals of the Arctic, sub-Arctic, and similar regions.
Today, the zoo’s habitats house more than 110 animals from 53 cold-loving species. In semiaquatic zones, polar bears nap, harbor seals swim, and river otters attempt to solve calculus equations. In terrestrial environments, amur tigers play with a ball attached to a zipline, and black bears lounge in a hammock made from recycled fire hoses. Other habitats house residents such as snow leopards, reindeer, and wolves.
In addition to caring for these animals, staffers conduct Iditarod-focused educational events in March and use animal-themed light displays to celebrate both the summer solstice and approaching winter holidays. They also raise awareness for wildlife through educational programs, such as seasonal adventure camps and zookeeper shadowing, and join in conservation efforts, such as serving as ambassadors for Polar Bears International and the Toupees for Bald Eagles Project.
Ever since The Alaska Club opened its first location in 1986, they've been striving to serve their members by adding amenities, classes, and opening new locations. Though each location?s offerings vary, they supplement their well-stocked fleets of cardio machines and strength equipment with cycling studios, climbing walls, basketball courts, swimming pools, and play centers for the kids. The club also offers spa services including hydromassage beds, tanning, and saunas.
Group fitness classes include yoga, step aerobics, and Pilates, and personal trainers stand at the ready to help clients focus on fitness goals. The clubs also offer swim lessons and summer camps for kids, setting in stone their commitment to making The Alaska Club a place for the whole family, not the half-formed family, which needs at least seven more years to gestate in the laboratory incubator.
Alaska Baseball Development Program has hosted youth baseball camps in Anchorage and its surrounding communities for the past 15 years. Every summer, director Andre Toliver?a former player for the Chicago White Sox?rounds up the best available high school and college coaches to lead ABDP's camps and instructional programs. Thanks to the efforts of Andre and ABDP, many past students have advanced to compete at the high school and college levels.
Since 1991, For Fun Alaska has enlivened birthday parties, block parties, and community get-togethers with a comprehensive spectrum of bounce houses, obstacle courses, and party services. The collection of rental houses includes inflatable waterslides and bungee runs designed for children, as well as giant bounce houses and inflatable boxing rings suitable for adults. For Fun also places guests inside of giant hamster balls, allowing them to experience spinning pleasure while avoiding confrontations with pet rodents over whose turn it is to use the wheel. In addition, the staff proffers face-painting and balloon-animal services, and works with a commitment to keeping parties both safe and fun.
Swim Like A Fish teaches kids to be comfortable and safe in the water. Founder Jeannette Menchinsky has made it a mission to prevent drownings ever since she was personally affected by one. Now, she organizes classes that teach children how to become expert swimmers with a patient, encouraging method. Taking place in a 4-feet-deep heated pool, private lessons can be scheduled between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. to accommodate most families' busy lives. In addition to kids' lessons, the school hosts classes that train adults who are beginners or triathletes and boaters who want to improve their skills.
In a steady procession, waves rear up to 4 feet high before collapsing and delighting waders with blasts of spray. Unlike ocean waves, these aren’t governed by the moon, and they don’t crash against a beach. Instead, they rhythmically rise and fall in the wave pool at H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark, which stays open year-round and is the state’s only indoor water park.
Outside of the wave pool, park visitors can find watery solace floating down the 575-foot lazy river with its gentle current. For a higher-octane experience, the Master Blaster water coaster rockets riders through a splash-filled adventure much safer than riding a scooter into the shower. And when it comes to entertaining the younger set, the four cannons on the park’s pirate ship evoke intrigue on its waters, and the placid children’s lagoon gives tentative youngsters a haven for safe play.