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Lifelong Alaskan takes advantage of zoo walk one last time

Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 8:02 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Living in a state as beautiful as Alaska, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll find something to do outside. Erin Knoch, considers herself a lifelong Alaska having lived in Anchorage since June of 1970.

She said ever since her kids were little, the Alaska Zoo played a large role in her family’s lives.

“We came here once a week and one day I saw an older couple walking and they didn’t have any children with them, and I told my husband that night when we’re old, we’re gonna have a zoo pass because I thought, ‘What a nice place to walk,’” she said.

Four years ago, on a cold January morning, Knoch made good on that promise.

“I think it was ten below zero and so I put on every piece of winter clothing I could find,” she said.

You can bet her 15-minute walk made some animals do a double take, but come rain, shine or freezing cold, Knoch’s made it her mission to get out and get moving.

“I get quiet time alone with myself. I use it as my prayer time, and it helps me to exercise my muscles,” she said.

Depending on the day, she may do two or three laps, and almost every walk involves some interaction with her animal friends. The zoo employees not only know her by name, but she has memorized most of the animal’s names as well. But it’s the swans that are her favorite.

“I’ll miss them all, but I do love these guys,” said Knoch.

Over the years, she’s captured her memories with a selfie here and there, even posting to Facebook and encouraging others to take advantage of what’s in their own backyard.

“Many friends have bought passes just because they’re like, 'Oh hey that’s a really cool thing," and the pass is not expensive,” she said.

Unfortunately, Knoch’s daily walks had to end.

“It’s a hard thing to leave this place, but we will be moving close to family which is good so I’m looking for joy,” she said.

Knoch knows more than anyone else that home is where the heart is and the trails, the zoo and Alaska will always be her home.

Knoch now lives in another state but plans to visit and when she does, she said the Alaska Zoo is one of the first places she’ll go.

Click here to learn more about the Alaska Zoo or to get an annual pass.

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