Arturo the polar bear won’t be moved from his home in an Argentinian zoo, despite protests and a global petition that surpassed 500,000 signatures this week. The director of Mendoza Zoo in Argentina explained Tuesday that Arturo is too old to be safely relocated.
The plight of the polar bear was brought to light earlier this month when it was suggested that Arturo is depressed and at risk of heat-related illness or death. The Independent reports that Arturo may have become depressed after his long-term companion died in 2012. Since then, experts believe the polar bear’s behavior has become “abnormal.”
The massive creature is often seen swaying his head, pacing in his enclosure, and bearing his teeth. The polar bear’s coat is also designed for his natural habitat of icy sea water and sub-zero temperatures rather than the baking heat of the South American nation.
However, the directors at Mendoza Zoo remain steadfast in their decision that Arturo the polar bear should remain where he is at, rather than relocating him to Manitoba, as the petition suggests. The Huffington Post notes that zoo director Gustavo Pronotto asserted Arturo suffers only from the typical ailments of old age.
Pronotto added that relocation would be too risky because the 28-year-old bear would have to be sedated. He noted, “Arturo is close to his caretakers. We just want everyone to stop bothering the bear.”
But Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups don’t plan to stop petitioning for his relocation. Mariana Caram of OIKOS-Red Ambiental explained that her Mendoza-based environmental group will challenge the veterinarian panel’s decision to keep the polar bear in Argentina.
Caram stated, “I saw the bear last Thursday. He came out and he swam just a bit. He’s walking very slowly. They’ve expanded his pool but they still have yet to give him the room he needs to walk.”
When Arturo’s situation went viral, former U.S. House Speaker New Gingrich spoke out for the polar bear’s relocation, writing on his Facebook page, “If you love animals the way I do, please sign the petition to help the Argentinian polar bear, Arturo. His current living situation is very sad, and he deserves to be saved.”
The petition on Change.org asks Argentine President Cristina Fernandez to allow Arturo to be relocated. With the zoo’s denial, the petition will likely not succeed, unless OIKOS-Red Ambiental can overturn the veterinarian panel’s decision. Until then, Arturo the polar bear will remain in Mendoza.
[Image by Kulmalukko]