This party had the bear necessities.
Fish in a puzzle feeder? Check. Meat hidden in snow? Of course. Gift wrap in the form of a refrigerator box? Got it. Toys to toss around? Certainly. A 257-kilogram birthday boy? Front and centre.
Hudson the polar bear was the guest of honour at a party in front of his enclosure at the Assiniboine Zoo on Friday morning to celebrate his second birthday.
The enormous bear, who was moved to Winnipeg last January after being born in captivity in the Toronto Zoo, thrilled the crowd of mostly preschool children and parents by immediately diving face-first into a pile of fresh snow deposited in his habitat and digging for food and toys hidden in it.
Children began singing a loud rendition of 'Happy Birthday' as the bear lumbered over to push over the fridge box to get at the feeder. After a few sniffs, he headed back to the pile of snow, fresh stuff donated by the MTS Centre, to continue digging.
"I came today with my dad and my friend River, we got to miss school because I was really excited to see the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre and see Hudson on his birthday," said Martina Barclay, 10, a grade five student at École Laura Secord who was accompanied by her dad, Dave.
"I think it's really important to learn as much as we can about polar bears because they are almost extinct, they're endangered."
Shonet Stoesz brought her three children Nate, 4 1/2, Anthony, 2 1/2, and Olivia, 1, to check out the big guy's big day.
"For someone who is home-schooling, I am home-schooling Nate, It's always great to come to the zoo and this was a great educational opportunity for all of us," Stoesz said.
The first 500 visitors to the zoo are receiving "I Love Hudson" buttons.