Alaska Life

Jake the brown bear, an Alaska Zoo star for almost 4 decades, has died

His roars won’t echo through the Alaska Zoo grounds anymore.

Jake, the oldest known living brown bear in captivity, died with the help of his caretakers this week, according to officials at the Anchorage zoo. He was 39.

Jake arrived at the zoo as an orphaned cub in the early 1980s. As a young bear, he was known to wave at visitors and play throughout his habitat. His roars alongside Izzy, another brown bear at the zoo, could be heard in the morning as the two played loudly.

“He was a really good-natured bear, kind of a goofball,” said Pat Lampi, Alaska Zoo executive director.

Thousands of visitors interacted with Jake over the years, Lampi said.

Jake had an impact. He participated in a dozen research studies with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and others. He was the chief tester for bearproof trash cans in the state, zoo officials said.

And he was playful, even in his later years. After getting up from hibernation this spring, he was out with fellow bears Oreo and Izzy, shadowboxing and chasing one another.


But Jake began to lose mobility more severely, so zoo staff discussed his quality of life and made the decision to euthanize him.

“Everybody agreed,” Lampi said.

Former and current zoo staff said their goodbyes.

“He did live a really long good life here,” Lampi said.

Morgan Krakow

Morgan Krakow covers education and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. Before joining the ADN, she interned for The Washington Post. Contact her at