(POLAR BEARS/ZOOS/ANIMAL WELFARE) ARGENTINA — Zoo directors at Mendoza Zoo in Argentina refuse to transport Arturo, a 900 pound polar bear, to a more accommodating and spacious enclosure in Canada.

Arturo currently lives alone in a concrete enclosure with only a 20-inch-deep pool which he uses to cool himself. Since temperatures in Mendoza can reach up to 86 degrees in the summer months, this habitat is hardly suitable to a polar bear’s needs.

Arturo is the mascot of the Mendoza Zoo. Photo credit: Breitbart.com
Arturo is the mascot of the Mendoza Zoo. Photo credit: Breitbart.com

According to zoo directors at Mendoza Zoo, Arturo, at 28 years of age, is simply too old to safely make the 6,000 mile journey from Argentina to Winnipeg, Canada. Animal rights advocates, however, launched a petition to transport Arturo to Winnipeg Zoo when he began showing signs of depression and stress.

For polar bears, common signs of distress include nervous pacing, tilting of the head, and showing of the teeth, all of which were behaviors that Arturo displayed. Since his mate died of cancer in 2012, Arturo has lived alone in his enclosure, and has not interacted with his own species in over two years.

Arturo only has a shallow pool to cool himself off in. Photo credit: Change.org
Arturo only has a shallow pool for cooling himself off. Photo credit: Change.org

Considering that Arturo lives in an unhealthy environment and a constant state of stress, it’s not surprising that Arturo is being deemed as “the world’s saddest animal.”

Fernanda Arentsen, an Argentinian professor, wrote to her governor and the Canadian Embassy about Arturo’s condition:

“You can see he is going crazy. He moves the way polar bears do when they are suffering a lot of stress. He has been filmed rocking back and forth in a way that signals distress. It breaks my heart to see it. I’m from Mendoza. I know how hot summer is. There is no way for him to escape the heat. He looks so sad. He looks in pain. You can imagine a polar bear in the desert with a swimming pool 50cm deep. It’s difficult to watch this poor animal suffering and in pain.”

Campaigners hope to move Arturo to Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg, where his new 10 acre home would provide a more natural environment for polar bears. Unlike the Mendoza Zoo in Argentina, the Canadian zoo has a deep, rocky pool where the polar bears can stay cool. This part of the exhibit, known as the Sea Ice Passage, is over 20-meters-long and two meters deep.

Arturo is the only polar bear living in Argentina. Photo credit: Yahoo
Arturo is the only polar bear living in Argentina. Photo credit: Yahoo

Living at the Assiniboine Zoo would give Arturo the chance to roam in a more spacious environment, as well as interact with other polar bears.

Over half a million supporters have already signed the petition to transport Arturo to Canada.

TAKE ACTION: Sign this petition to allow Arturo to live a happier life in the Assiniboine Zoo.

— Rebecca Hartt, exclusive to Global Animal