A polar bear popularly known as “the saddest polar bear on Earth” has died Sunday due to old age at Mendoza Zoo in Argentina.
As reported by Mirror, Arturo, 31, lived most of his life in a sweltering enclosure, where temperatures can climb up to 104F (40C), with only a 20-inch of pool water to cool himself.
Born in the US, Arturo was moved to Argentina at age eight. Arturo reportedly became depressed when his enclosure companion, Pelusa, died in 2012.
Since his partner’s death, Arturo reportedly exhibited signs of depression. The polar bear was often observed swaying his head from side to side and walking up and down his enclosure repeatedly, which professionals said were telltale signs that the enclosure’s poor living conditions are driving the animal insane.
Animal activist pointed out that Arturo exhibited the same “abnormal behavior” that Pelusa showed before he died in 2012.
Before long, photos of the bear lying flat on his stomach and looking miserable went their rounds on the internet, prompting concerned groups to start an online petition via Greenpeace requesting that Arturo be moved to Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Canada, a shelter where the winter animal can enjoy a “cooler climate” and live a “better life.” The petition, signed by more than 700,000 people, claims that the polar bear was being kept as a “prisoner.”
“We plead for solidarity and sensitivity from President, Mrs. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner,” it explains. “We plead that [she] intervenes on this issue and ask the officials in Mendoza, who have the polar bear Arturo prisoner, to accept [his] transfer to the reserve so he can live in suitable conditions.”
Former Republican presidential contender and wildlife conservationist Newt Gingrich posted a video message on Facebook to implore the public to sign the petition.
“If you love animals the way I do, you’re going to want to sign the petition to save the Argentinean polar bear, Arturo,” Gingrich said. “This is very sad, and he should be saved.”
Iconic singer Cher took to Twitter to write an open letter to the Argentinian president, suggesting that “blood will be on his hands” if Arturo dies.
“Don’t cry for him, Argentina? No tears of Mrs Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for tortured polar bear Arturo,” Cher tweeted. “Your hands are stained with his blood when he dies.”
Veterinarians, however, refused the petition’s request, explaining that moving Arturo to another country could prove harmful to Arturo’s health on account of his advanced age.
Canadian tabloid The Winnipeg Sun reported that the petition was denied because the stricken polar bear didn’t have updated medical records as per regulations set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
“There are very strict regulations that must be met to bring an animal into Canada,” said Don Peterkin, chief operations officer with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. “These regulations are in place to ensure the health and welfare of animals and animal-related industries so without the proper health records in place it’s simply not possible to obtain the permits required.”
Last month, Mendoza zoo closed its doors to visitors after 64 animals died between December and May reportedly due to a bacteria outbreak and overcrowding. According to the city hall, they are planning on converting the zoo into a natural reserve and then sending the animals to more suitable conservation sites.
“We hope that he will be the last polar bear to be held in a zoo in our country,” said Soledad Sede, Greenpeace spokeswoman. “We hope that his case will oblige the authorities to review the state of other exotic species still living in the same situation.”
The initiative made by city hall was a little too late for Arturo, who lived up to his reputation as the “saddest polar bear on Earth” even in death.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]