Argentina's last captive polar bear, Arturo, is going nowhere. Despite the fact that close to a million people – including a few celebrities like Cher and Newt Gingrich– signed on online petition begging Argentina to deport Arturo to a proper climate, the “world’s saddest polar bear” is going to remain in his less-than-ideal enclosures.
Yahoo! News on July 23 said that Arturo “can be regularly seen pacing in his enclosure, baring his teeth, tilting his head and rocking back and forth, all considered signs of stress in polar bears.”
A petition posted to Change.org and authored to Argentinean President Cristina Fernández states: “We plead that you intervene on this issue and ask the officials in Mendoza who have the polar bear Arturo prisoner to accept Arturo's transfer to the reserve so he can live in suitable conditions.” Petitioners are seeking to have the bear moved to Canada.
A similar petition from Greenpeace has over 200,000 supporters.
Arturo is living in grossly unsuitable conditions. Hot and sticky temps outside make Arturo lethargic, and his “water hole” is a paltry 20-inches deep. To make matters worse, he’s all alone – Arturo’s last polar bear companion died in 2012.
But the Mendoza Zoo in Argentina, where Arturo lives his diminished life, is telling people to just leave them and their old bear alone.
“Arturo is close to his caretakers. We just want everyone to stop bothering the bear,” zoo director Gustavo Pronotto 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.”
Pronotto said Arturo suffers only the typical ailments of old age, which would make relocation too risky because he would have to be sedated to travel. A panel of Argentine veterinarians concluded in February that Arturo should stay in Mendoza.
Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups argue it's riskier to keep the bear in Mendoza, where temperatures can reach up to 86 Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) in the summer. The last polar bear at the Buenos Aires zoo died in December 2012 amid a heat wave.