We have two polar bears here at the Memphis Zoo.
"Payton" is our big male. He is 10 years old and weighs about 1,100 lbs. Payton was born at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. He got his name when the zoo had a naming contest to name the new polar bear. The winning name, Payton, was suggested because Payton had become a beloved bear of Chicago. So they found it fitting to name him after another beloved Chicago Bear, Walter Payton, the great football player. Payton spent the first 2-3 years of his life living with mom up in Chicago and then we were lucky enough to have him come to our Zoo. Payton really enjoys the winter, especially the days when it snows. You can see him playing in the snow, rolling around in it, and then just laying in it. He really loves to spread his arms and legs out to get as much of him next to the ground as possible. He will also lay on his back with his belly in the air.
Winter is also around breeding season. That is when we put our bears together. You can really tell that Payton is very interested in "Haley" since he will not leave her side. They often will sleep on exhibit lying next to each other.
Our female polar bear is named Haley. Her mother’s name was "Aurora," so she was named after Haley’s comet to keep with the celestial theme. She weighs around 800 pounds and is 11 years old. Haley loves to stalk her favorite toys. She backs up really slow, crouches down, slowly walks up to it and then pounces! We have also seen her playing pinball with a small, green oval shaped toy. She stands at the bottom of the river and swats it upstream. It zigzags back and forth, hitting all the different rocks, until it reaches the top and falls back down to her. Then she does it all again.
Our polar bears have a varied schedule, so you never know which one will be on exhibit. If you don’t see a polar bear near the big pool, be sure to walk up along the side of the enclosure. They often like to nap on the rocky bluff.
-- Kim Sopchak, zookeeper