Three grizzly bears at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) got to indulge in a special treat this weekend: massive vegetables from the state fair.

Dozens of cabbages, zucchinis and rhubarb were offered up to grizzlies J.B., Hugo and Patron on Sunday. It’s an annual tradition now in its sixth year.

“The bears enjoy it because it’s an opportunity for them to have a food item that’s really large and really massive. And it gives them a chance to roll around and tear apart and crunch into it,” said Wilson Puryear, a naturalist intern at AWCC.

The bears usually eat a high-protein diet with plenty of fish, so the veggies were a welcome departure from their typical routine.

“People see bears and they think … carnivore, predator. But a lot of a bear’s diet is vegetation,” Puryear said.

A few dozen spectators gathered to watch the bears devour the giant pieces of produce.

“It’s really cool to see how they’re using the extra produce to do something fun like this,” said Chloe Miller, who was visiting from the Pittsburgh area.

“This is great for them … And [it’s] exciting and something entertaining for us,” she said.

The three bears were all rescued as cubs from different part of the state. AWCC is now their permanent home. And if you’re wondering why the food wasn’t donated for people to eat, it’s because the giant veggies are too mealy for humans to consume.

Contact Eric Ruble at eruble@ktva.com or on Twitter.

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