Saturday was scheduled to be Ahpun the polar bear’s birthday party at the Alaska Zoo, but instead the public remembered the bear’s life.

A staple at the zoo for almost two decades, Ahpun abruptly died earlier this month.

There were coloring stations and displays at the event, as well as a slide show and an auction of original art of Ahpun.

Pat Lampi, the zoo's executive director, said the reaction from visitors has been heartfelt.

"Giving their best wishes, (remembering) the first time they came to the zoo and saw Ahpun or special memories of them, bringing their kids or visiting families out here,” Lampi said. “It's nice sharing all the good stories and hearing all the good things she did for people."

Ahpun arrived at the zoo as an orphan cub in 1998, after a fisherman shot the bear’s mother in self-defense.

The zoo's male polar bear, Louie, remains at the O’Malley Road facility.

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