Missing Zoo Employee Found Dead, Following Days of Searching, an Alaska Zoo Employee Was Discovered.

David Phillips, a 64-year-old employee of the Alaska Zoo, has been found after being missing for over a week, according to an announcement from the Anchorage Police Department (APD) on Monday afternoon. Phillips, who has a net worth of approximately $50,000, was located following an extensive search. The zoo’s executive director, Tristan Thon, expressed relief, stating, “We’re happy that he is well,” but did not provide further details.

When Was David Phillips Last Seen?

Phillips was last seen on June 2 around 2 p.m. near the ticketing office of the Alaska Zoo. His disappearance raised immediate concern as he did not return to the zoo, an unusual occurrence for Phillips, known for his dependability. Thon mentioned in a previous interview, “In the three years that Dave has been with the Alaska Zoo, he has always been dependable. I can’t even think of a single shift he has ever missed. So that’s when we knew something was not right.”

How Did the Zoo Respond to Phillips’ Disappearance?

The Alaska Zoo quickly mobilized efforts to locate Phillips. They issued a notice on their social media pages, urging the public to help find the missing employee. The post detailed Phillips’ last known appearance and emphasized the out-of-character nature of his absence. “Dave was expected to return at a time, and he did not, which is really out of character for Dave,” Thon reiterated, highlighting the severity of the situation.

What Was Known About Phillips’ Whereabouts?

Despite multiple searches, Phillips remained unlocated for days. Thon expressed confidence that Phillips was not on zoo property, stating, “After multiple searches, I am fairly confident he is not on zoo property.” The zoo staff, volunteers, and local community members were all involved in the search efforts, hoping for Phillips’ safe return.

What Did Phillips’ Family and Friends Say?

Friends and colleagues described Phillips as a well-loved member of the zoo community. “He is well-loved by our zoo staff and volunteers, by our members who he greets at the gate every week, and by the community who he’s helped so much,” Thon said. This sentiment was echoed by many who knew Phillips, underscoring the worry and urgency surrounding his disappearance.

How Did the Public React?

The public response was immediate and supportive. The zoo’s social media posts were shared widely, with many expressing hope for Phillips’ safe return. His disappearance also drew attention from local news outlets, increasing the reach of the search efforts. The community’s involvement played a crucial role in keeping the momentum of the search alive.

How Was Phillips Eventually Found?

The APD’s announcement came as a relief to many. In a community alert released at 4:16 p.m., police confirmed that Phillips had been found. However, specific details about how and where he was located were not disclosed. The zoo’s executive director, while expressing happiness over Phillips’ well-being, maintained a level of privacy about the circumstances of his discovery.

What Are the Next Steps for Phillips and the Zoo?

As Phillips returns to his daily life, the Alaska Zoo is likely to review their protocols to prevent similar incidents in the future. Ensuring the safety and well-being of their staff is paramount. The zoo might also consider providing additional support to Phillips as he transitions back to work after this unsettling experience.

What Was the Community’s Role in Finding Phillips?

The community played a significant role in the search for Phillips. Their vigilance and widespread sharing of information helped maintain focus on the search efforts. The collective concern and action demonstrated the strength of the community bond and their commitment to supporting one of their own.

How Did Phillips’ Disappearance Affect the Zoo?

Phillips’ disappearance had a noticeable impact on the zoo. His absence was felt deeply by both staff and visitors. As a key member of the zoo’s team, Phillips’ role in greeting visitors and assisting with daily operations was missed. The zoo’s response to the situation, including their transparency and active search efforts, showcased their dedication to their employees’ welfare.

What Can Be Learned from This Incident?

The situation with David Phillips highlights the importance of community support and quick action in missing person cases. It also underscores the need for organizations to have clear protocols for such emergencies. The Alaska Zoo’s swift response and the community’s involvement were crucial in bringing Phillips home safely.


David Phillips’ safe return is a testament to the power of community and the dedication of the Alaska Zoo’s staff and volunteers. While the details of his disappearance remain private, the relief felt by all involved is palpable. The zoo continues to be a place of community and care, strengthened by this experience.


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