National

Polar bear Ahpun dies after

nearly 20 years at Alaska Zoo

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A beloved polar bear at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage has died.

A zookeeper Sunday found Ahpun (ah-POON’), who was about 20 years old, dead during morning rounds.

Zoo director Patrick Lampi (LAM-pee) says Ahpun had shown no signs of illness and a necropsy found no cause of death. Tissue will be sent out for additional analysis.

Ahpun was orphaned in 1998 near Point Lay on Alaska’s northwest coast. A man returning from a fishing trip unknowingly approached a den and Ahpun’s mother charged.

The fisherman shot the bear in self-defense and determined she had emerged from a den. The fisherman crawled inside and found the cub.

Ahpun grew from a 31-pound (14-kilogram) cub into a 700-pound (317-kilogram) adult.

The zoo also has a male polar bear, nicknamed Louie.

T-shirts in Alaska in winter?

With record-tying temps, yes

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — While much of the nation shivers in bone-aching cold, people in Alaska’s largest city are basking in warmer weather, jogging in short sleeves, ice-skating in T-shirts or walking dogs while just lightly bundled up.

Anchorage saw an official high of 44 degrees Tuesday, tying the record set in 1981 and 2011. That was warm enough for Patricia Bierer, who was visiting Alaska this winter from Montana.

“I am from the Bitterroot Valley in Montana, and it’s colder there today than it is here in Alaska,” said Bierer, dressed in a pink parka as she strolled with family members around Anchorage’s Westchester Lagoon. “And my children that are there are jealous because I’ve got 40-degree temperatures here.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Kurtz said areas of high and low pressure are working together to push tropical air to the north. But temperatures are expected to begin dropping Tuesday night, and below freezing by Wednesday. That freeze-thaw vacillation should bring slick conditions to the area.

“I jokingly refer to it as freezy, skid stuff,” Kurtz said.

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