After almost a month at his new home, Walker the polar bear celebrated his second birthday in snowy style today (Tuesday 7 December) at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie.
Walker, who was born in 2008 in Rhenen Zoo in Holland, was given a special birthday treat from his keepers, who built him a snowman filled with some of his favourite foods - trout, carrot and beef. In his true cheeky style, Walker certainly enjoyed showing off with his birthday gift.
Douglas Richardson, Animal Collection Manager at the Highland Wildlife Park said,
‘Walker is a ball of energy on any normal day, so for his birthday we wanted to give him some enrichment that he could really get his teeth into.
‘His favourite toys are normally traffic cones and umbrella stands, but he has been making the most of the recent snowfall so we thought he would appreciate a more solid snow structure to play with – or destroy!’
Mercedes looked on as Walker celebrated his first birthday on Highland soil, and keepers gave her some party food of her own.
Douglas continued: ‘Mercedes and Walker are not the best of pals, but they are living amicably in the same enclosure now, which is a good result given the age difference of the two bears.
‘Now that Mercedes has realised that Walker is not a threat she has settled down, and Walker is very respectful of Mercedes at the moment – he appreciates that she is not quite as playful as he is!’
But Walker wasn’t the only person celebrating his birthday at the Highland Wildlife Park today. Young animal enthusiast Dexter Hughes made a trip to the park with his dad Jasper, who is Education Officer at the Highland Wildlife Park, to celebrate his seventh birthday.
Jasper said: ‘Dexter is mad about his animals and has been dying to come and visit Walker since he arrived, so he was delighted when he found out Walker’s birthday was on the same day as his. He even requested a polar bear birthday cake this year, so we thought it would be special for him to come and meet Walker today so they can celebrate their birthdays together!’
Dexter, who wants to be a keeper himself when he is older, was introduced to Walker this morning by the bear’s keepers at the polar bear enclosure, where Walker was making the most of his birthday treat.
Dexter said: ‘I want to be a keeper at the park or at a Zoo when I am older, so I like coming to the Highland Wildlife Park. I love animals and meeting Walker on my birthday was really cool... but I bet my birthday cake was yummier than his.’