Thursday, October 26, 2023

Farewell to Payton


Payton in Memphis in 2012.

We heard today of the sudden passing of Payton, son of Arki and Aussie. He had been living in the North Carolina Zoo with Aurora and Yukon's daughter Anana since January of 2021. He died two hours into a transport to the Louisville Zoo yesterday, October 25. 

Payton in 2012

He would have been 20 years old on November 8. Payton was named for NFL running back Walter Payton. 


I visited him in October of 2012, when he was living in Memphis with Haley. He had moved to the Memphis Zoo with Aurora and Yukon's daughter Haley, who had come to Chicago from the Seneca Park Zoo in New York to get to know him. The two moved together from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago in January of 2006. There were never any offspring from these two.

Payton with the kids

Arki and Aussie were the parents of five cubs. Marty, who was born in 1996, moved to Toledo and went on to father many cubs there, all but one with Crystal. Marty died in Toledo in 2021. Arki and Aussi's daughter Tiguak, who was hand raised, went to Canada and died in 2011 while undergoing a procedure under anesthetic.  Kinepak, born in 2000, died in Buffalo in 2007. Payton was born in 2003 and Hudson, the only offspring still alive, was born in 2006 in Brookfield. 

Payton was well loved in Memphis, and also in North Carolina, a cooperative and laid back bear who always had a good relationship with his keepers.

Payton was a playful boy.

I only visited him once, but noticed he had the same kind of dance as his mother Arki, only in the water. He seemed to enjoy interacting with the youngsters who visited him.

Payton interacting with the visitors in Memphis

Payton did the reverse dance, like his mom Arki.

Payton loved to see the kids at the window

Payton at the window in Memphis


This leaves only 39 polar bears in US zoos, and there is a law preventing the import of polar bears from outside the US.


Payton was destined for the Louisville Zoo, where wildborn Qannik lives, but she is property of Fish and Wildlife, and cannot be part of the breeding program.

Farewell, Payton. You were such a good bear.