‘He was the best boy bear’: Polar bear dies while being transferred to zoo in Kentucky

Payton, a male polar bear, was being transferred from the North Carolina Zoo to the Louisville Zoo as part of a polar bear breeding partnership.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The North Carolina Zoo is “deeply saddened” after one of their polar bears died while being transferred to the Louisville Zoo.

Payton, a male polar bear, was being transferred to the Louisville Zoo as part of a polar bear breeding partnership. According to a news release, he was traveling with an experienced care team who performed routine checks on the 1,000-pound polar bear throughout the trip.

Officials said on the second check, less than two hours away from the North Carolina Zoo, the care team found Payton non-responsive. He was immediately taken to a nearby animal veterinarian where they confirmed that he had died.

Payton was taken back to the North Carolina Zoo, where a necropsy was conducted by zoo veterinary staff.

According to Dr. Jb Minter, the zoo’s director of animal health, “The necropsy indicated some evidence of cardiac disease, a tumor on his adrenal gland as well as some moderate osteoarthritis in keeping with his advanced age. Tissue samples will be sent to outside laboratories for further testing to help determine the cause of his death.”

“He was the best boy bear,” polar bear keeper Melissa Vindigni said. “I learned so much from him and I was blessed to work with him. I will never forget the things he taught me.”
Officials said a full investigation into the incident will be conducted.