Argentina denies 'world’s saddest polar bear' Arturo chance to live in Canada
Argentinian zoo refuses to transfer its only polar bear out of sweltering heat despite public outcry
Arturo, the depressed polar bear, will not be removed from the sweltering climes of his Argentinian zoo, despite the rapid growth of a global petition that has amassed more than half a million signatures for him to be transferred to Canada.
The director of Mendoza Zoo in Argentina said on Tuesday that at the age of 28, Arturo is too old to be safely relocated.
The decision follows growing interest in the bear’s welfare, after animal rights groups, activists and visitors to the zoo have spoken out against the conditions that Arturo lives in, and Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Canada, has offered to give Arturo a better life.
An online petition calling for Arturo to be relocated to the Winnipeg Zoo has had well over 500,000 signatures, which would see the Arctic bear living in a habitat far closer to his own.
Arturo is believed to have become depressed after his long-term companion died two years ago. Since then, experts believe that his behaviour has become "abnormal". He is often seen swaying his head from side to side, pacing back and forth in his enclosure, while bearing his teeth.
Arturo’s thick coat of fur is designed for his natural habitat of icy sea water and temperatures as low as minus 40C, but in the baking heat of his Argentinian confines, the polar bear is forced to endure the sweltering highs of 40 degrees.
But the directors at the Argentinian zoo remain steadfast in their decision not to have Arturo transferred out of his current situation, claiming the bear is simply suffering the typical ailments of old age, and that relocating him would be too risky as he would need to be sedated.
Zoo director Gustavo Pronotto said Arturo is "close to his caretakers" and that "we just want everyone to stop bothering the bear".
But an environmental group in Mendoza known as OIKOS-Red Ambiental is not giving up, and has said it is working on a report to challenge the decision that Arturo is not able to travel, which was made by a panel of veterinarians on behalf of the zoo in February.
The evaluation was called "unconvincing" by the Ecologists United movement, who claim Arturo was not assessed properly and was only “observed from a distance”.
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