This sad looking polar bear above is called Arturo. He is the saddest polar bear in the world for two reasons:
- He has been alone since his long-term companion, Pelusa, died two year ago.
- He is currently living in a concrete enclosure in the Mendoza Zoo in Argentina enduring temperatures of 40 C (104 F).
This 29-year old bear is reacting to his lonely life of discomfort by tilting his head to show his teeth, pacing back and forth, and rocking from side to side, all signs of abnormal behavior.
Arturo has lived in the zoo for 20 years, and those who are concerned for him are afraid that these are signs of mental health problems. A leading campaigner is the entertainer, Cher. She Tweeted:
Arturo’s only access to water is a tiny pool, just 20in (50cm) deep, and animal rights activists are seeking his transfer to another zoo with better amenities.
Five months ago, there was a proposal to move Arturo to a new International Polar Bear Conservation Center in Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Canada. However, according to the Sunday People, Mendoza Zoo blocked this idea as it didn’t believe the bear would survive the two-day trip.
Zoo director Gustavo Pronotto said the medical board had made a decision — and officials were anxious to “avoid a big mistake.”
He said the bear was in “good condition,” at that time explaining that, in captivity, polar bears often live to be 30 years old, some 10 years more than they can expect in the wild.
Mr Pronotto actually said, “We must avoid a big mistake, like his death during the trip or upon arrival. One must evaluate the risks carefully. He is old, and this would require many hours of anesthesia.”
The organization Greenpeace has amassed some 160,000 signatures in a campaign to transfer Arturo urgently to Canada, because the weather that more closely resembles his natural habitat.
Argentinian professor Fernanda Arentsen has contacted her government and the Canadian Embassy in Buenos Aires.
She told the Winnipeg Free Press last year:
“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.”
Arturo, was born in the U.S. in 1985 and arrived in Mendoza in 1993. Every day Arturo is fed 33lbs (15kg) of meat and all the fruit and vegetables he can eat.
So far, the zoo has given no indication that it is willing to take any further action regarding Arturo — the saddest polar bear in the world.