Copper River Seafoods helps zoo Polar Bears keep cool

Nineteen-year-old Louie, a 1,136-pound polar bear, cools it at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, thanks to 2,000 pounds of shaved ice donated by Copper River Seafoods. Photo by Marty Weiser/Copper River Seafoods

Two polar bears at the Alaska Zoo got a special treat over the Fourth of July weekend as record hot temperatures hit the Anchorage area, thanks to the donation of some 2,000 pounds of shaved ice from Copper River Seafoods.

Eleven-hundred-and-36-pound Louie, and his 706-pound mate Cranberry, got to sniff and then roll in a large pile of shaved ice in their enclosure. Zoo employees also distributed ice to other zoo critters, and there’s more on the way.

Copper River Seafoods is a big advocate for the zoo. In January the Alaska-based seafood processor donated an ice block birthday cake filled with seafood for the zoo’s annual polar bear birthday party. Among the guests were Billy Green, vice president of production for Copper River Seafoods, who started coming to the zoo as a child and now brings his own children.

“It’s important that we support the zoo, to give these animals some joy in the hot weather,” said Marty Weiser, chief development officer for the company, and another home-grown Anchorage resident. “We are very Alaska-centric. It’s a great community and we’re supportive of it.”

Patrick Lampi, executive director of the zoo, said the animals appreciate it. Once the pile of ice shavings is in their enclosure, the polar bears come stick their noses in it, spread it out and roll around in the ice, he said.

The polar bears also have their own deep swimming hole, where they swim year-round. To keep other critters cool, the zoo may also run sprinklers.

The Alaska Zoo, located on 25 acres on the Anchorage hillside, is home to over 100 birds and mammals representing some 50 species. Zoo staff are engaged in caring for them all, plus education, research, wildlife conservation and animal rehabilitation. Many of their critters were found orphaned or injured.

For more information about the Alaska Zoo, including upcoming events, log on to alaskazoo.org.