Chester: The Bear Who Waved
In 1970, an Alaskan brown bear came to the Zoo, a four-month-old orphaned cub who would become one of the Zoo’s most famous residents. His name was Chester, and visitors knew him as the bear who waved when the bus tour drove by. Chester was so well known and loved that it was said if you could only take one photo at the Zoo, it would be a picture of Chester. When he first arrived, he lived at the Children’s Zoo until he got too big. And big he definitely got: he eventually grew to more than 10 feet tall and about 800 pounds. Chester loved his main keeper, Jim Joiner, and would do pretty much anything for him. The big bear loved fish and apples, and Jim used those as treats during training sessions. Chester apparently knew how to count, because Jim would toss him six fish—but if he stopped at five, Chester waited until he got the sixth fish before eating! The beloved brown bear was clever and charismatic, and Jim used to joke that he was a man in a bear suit. Chester seemed to relish attention, and visitors were happy to oblige, applauding when he rubbed his tummy, stuck his feet in the air, or waved at the bus when it stopped by to see him.