49 Voices: Candidates for Alaska Zoo president

This week on 49 Voices: an election special. Zoo election, that is.

Supporters of the Alaska Zoo will be electing a president of their own on Nov. 8. Today we’ll hear from three candidates — Aphun the polar bear, Denali the wolf and George the Magpie — as well as their two campaign managers, Stephanie Hartman and Heather Doncaster. The spoke with Alaska Public Media’s Anne Hillman.

Donors to the Alaska Zoo can cast one vote per dollar given until Tuesday, Nov. 8.

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Aphun one of the candidates for Alaska Zoo president (Photo by Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage)
Aphun one of the candidates for Alaska Zoo president (Photo by Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

ANNE HILLMAN: Hey, Aphun… you’re not even looking at me. You’re sleeping. You’re sleeping on the job. She just lays around. Is that what the president is doing?

STEPHANIE HARTMAN: Yeah. Well, polar bears, if you think about it, they want to conserve energy so that they can build up a really big fat layer and be able to sustain themselves over periods of time with no food. So them being “lazy” is actually them being really good at conserving energy. Come on Aphun… good girl.

HILLMAN: So what makes you a good president Phun bear?

APHUN: (grunts)

HARTMAN:  Denali is this guy right over here hanging out in the shade under this tree.

DENALI: (barks)

HARTMAN: He’s very family-oriented so wolves, obviously, are very social, very highly intelligent animals. They’re used to living together in groups and, in fact, surviving in those family groups, known as packs. And these guys being very social and very smart, and Denali being the calm, confident leader that he is, being their primary male, or Alpha male, he loves his family. He does everything for his family. He’ll howl with his family.

DENALI: (howls)

HEATHER DONCASTER: So this is George the Magpie. She can talk at any time. She only really talks when she’s excited about something. Her brain power is just very, very large. Because she is a Corvid. Actually, the keepers have told me that they find George’s toys in the raven exhibit all the time. That means that she is feeding them out of her exhibit. The wild ravens get them. Then they trade the toy, our ravens, for food. Right now George is demonstrating her aloofness and that’s about all she’s doing. I was afraid that this would happen.


After being told innumerable times that maybe she asked too many questions, Anne Hillman decided to pursue a career in journalism. She's reported from around Alaska since 2007 and briefly worked as a community radio journalism trainer in rural South Sudan.
ahillman (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8447  |  About Anne

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