Sadness in Alaska, Happiness in Scotland

Jan 3rd, 2018 | By | Category: News from the Bear World

3.1.2018 – Sources: Alaska Zoo, Highland Wildlife Park Kincraig

After roughly two decades at the Alaska Zoo, Ahpun the polar bear suddenly died last weekend, according to zoo officials.

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Pat Lampi, the zoo’s director, said he was devastated after zoo staff discovered Ahpun’s body Sunday morning. Lampi said Ahpun was roaming around her enclosure at the zoo when he left Friday.

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It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our beloved polar bear, Ahpun. Zoo staff has had the privilege of taking care of her since her arrival as a cub in 1998, and are devastated with this loss. Ahpun was in good condition and had shown no signs of poor health at anytime leading up to her death. A necropsy was performed by veterinary staff and we are awaiting final results as to the cause of her death.

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We know Ahpun was well-loved by our community, so this year’s Polar Bear Birthday will also include a celebration of life for her.

Find out more here

Photos by John Gomes


Highland Wildlife Park

We’re thrilled to announce that Victoria, the UK’s only female polar bear, has given birth here at the Highland Wildlife Park! This is the first time a polar bear cub has been born in the UK for a quarter of a century.

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While we aren’t able to see inside her maternity den, keepers here at the Park heard distinct high-pitched noises shortly before Christmas which have continued into the new year.

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Victoria’s enclosure is currently closed, but visitors are welcome to visit dad Arktos, and his pal Walker, at our male polar bear enclosure.

Find out more here


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  1. Dear Mervi
    Another Roller Coaster morning of emotions.
    Ahpun was very much a part of our family and
    had been Zoo President with some help from
    The news from Kingussy is a surprise. But a wonderful
    one. They have enough room for Walker and Arktos to
    enjoy life while Victoria raises her new family. Without a car I am not sure how I could visit them, but train and taxi might be possible.

  2. My deep felt sympathy to the complete ALASKA ZOO.
    Even I knew AHPUN only from the competition for president from and for THE ALASKA ZOO
    and from John GOMES’ beautful photos, I had her taken into my heart. Sad greetings.

    – – –

    Loss and Joy are always so close together as we know already for a long time
    and we get demonstrated it so clear again at this early stage of the year
    – in Berlin, in Gelsenkirchen, in Anchorage, in Berlin, in Kincraig . . . .

    – – –

    Congratulations and Looooooooots of GOOD LUCK ! go all the way to Kincraig/Scotland/UK !

  3. Dear Mervi!
    I´m so sorry about the loss of Ahpun. I can understand how sad they are in the Alaska Zoo.
    I just read Ahpun´s story again and had to cry.
    We all know what it means to loose someone we love.
    My heartfelt sympathy!
    Perhaps it is a small comfort that she was loved dearly by Pat Lampi and the whole staff, she had a good life and probably did not have to suffer.

    Sleep well you beauty.

    At the moment I find it difficult, nearly impossible to switch over to joy about a new polar bear baby, the first in the UK since 25 years. But of course I wish Victoria and her cub from the bottom of my heart all the best!
    May the cub be and stay healthy, grow and prosper!


  4. So liegen traurige und freudige Nachrichten eng zusammen.
    Der Tod von Tonjas Baby, nun der Nachwuchs in Schottland.

    20 Jahe sind kein Alter für eine Bärin in Gefangenschaft.
    Aber Aphun sah immer so proper und gesund aus.
    Wer hätte damit gerechnet ? 🙁

  5. Dear Mervi,
    unfortunately the year started with the bad news. I am very sorry about loss of Ahpun. It is surely nice to pass away suddenly without pain, but she was not old. My heart is with the keepers from the zoo Alaska.

    I keep my fingers cross for Victoria and her baby.

  6. Dear Mervi and Dear John Gomes, it is really very sad to read that Ahpun has died so unexpectedly and so young. I wish all keepers of Alaska Zoo the strength to cope with this.
    About the baby of Victoria, AH WELL, I need some time to digest the first news, but nevertheless, I am wishing both the best.

  7. Dear Mervi,

    Freud und Leid – gibt es offenbar nur zu zweit.

    What a shock to hear about Aphun’s unexpected death.
    I also feel very sorry for her close friends, John Gomes and Pat Lampi, as well as her devoted team of keepers.

    Congratulations on the Scottish polar baby!
    May mama Victoria and the cubbie prosper and grow older together.


  8. Dear Mervi, sadness and happiness walk together. That is so true.

    Sorry to read about Aphun.

    All the best for the little Scottish one.

    Hugs Inge

  9. Es tut mir leid, dass nun auch Aphun über die Regenbrücke gegangen ist. Sie sieht auf den Bildern so schön fluffig und gesund aus.

    Glückwunsch nach Schottland zu Victoria`s Nachwuchs. Ich hoffe, dass das Kleine wächst und gesund bleibt.

    Liebe Grüße