Activists struggle to get elderly polar bear out of the Argentina heat

Screen capture from the video below.

Arturo is a 28-year-old polar bear who lives in a zoo in Mendoza, Argentina. Activists have been campaigning to get him out of Mendoza for months, saying the scorching hot weather is taking a toll on him. A zoo in Canada has even offered to adopt him, but local authorities have swayed back and forth on whether to let him go.
 
According to his keepers, Arturo was born in captivity in the United States. He has spent two decades in Mendoza’s zoo, where he is the only polar bear. Local activists have published multiple videos showing his living conditions online, and petitioned the zoo to let him go to Canada – but despite their continuing efforts, it seems he may not be leaving his pen anytime soon.
 
In the wild, polar bears live an average of 15 to 18 years. However, in captivity, they can live well into their 30s; one bear in a Canadian zoo lived to be 42.
 
This video, filmed by activists, shows Arturo pacing back and forth at Mendoza zoo.
Contributors

“There is no way for him to escape the heat, which can rise to more than 40 degrees Celsius in Mendoza”

Maria Fernanda Arentsen is originally from Mendoza, Argentina. She works as a university professor in Winnipeg, Canada.
 
I first heard of Arturo’s plight through friends of mine in Mendoza who are part of environmental groups there. It was clear from their reports and from videos they filmed of Arturo that he was suffering from the terrible heat in Mendoza, which is not suitable for an animal meant to live in much colder temperatures. We became especially worried about his situation after another polar bear kept in a zoo in Buenos Aires died from the effects of the heat there last year. And that bear lived in much better conditions, in an enclosure with a deep pool and big blocks of ice.
 
As you can see in the videos, Arturo lives in a concrete enclosure with only a shallow pool. There is no way for him to escape the heat, which can rise to more than 40 degrees Celsius during the summer months in Mendoza. [The polar bear in Buenos Aires, who was 16 years old, died on a day with a high of 36.7 degrees]. He has been filmed rocking back and forth in a way that animal experts say signals distress. It breaks my heart to see this.
 
 
Since I live in an area that is much more suitable for polar bears, I contacted a polar bear conservatory here, which offered to send their experts to evaluate Arturo’s condition and, if he was found fit to travel, take him back to their centre to live out the rest of his life, at no cost to the Mendoza zoo.
 
At first, Mendoza zoo officials refused, but then changed their minds and invited the conservatory’s experts to come see Arturo in November. However, just days before the scheduled trip – when the Canadian experts had already booked their tickets, packed all their equipment, etc – the invitation was retracted. [Editor’s Note: The province’s environment minister commented on this decision in a local radio interview by saying that the Canadians were “like pirates” who wanted to steal their bear, and alleged that the trip would kill him.] We were all very disappointed by their decision.
 
“It seems to me that the zoo is putting its pride ahead of Arturo’s well-being”
 
It seems to me that the Mendoza authorities are putting their pride ahead of Arturo’s well-being – and may not want to lose an attraction that brings revenue to the zoo.
 
Activists in Mendoza are not giving up the fight, however; they have collected more than 60,000 signatures and presented the petition to the local governor. My fingers are crossed, though I worry that nothing will change as long as the local authorities are in office.
 
FRANCE 24 contacted Don Peterkin, the director of Winnipeg’s Assinoibe Park Conservancy. He replied with the following statement: “We have left our offer to accept Arturo open but have not had any recent communications with officials in Mendoza. As Arturo is ultimately their responsibility, we have to leave the next step, if any, to their discretion.”
 
Representatives for the Mendoza zoo did not reply to an interview request by press time; when they respond, we will include their comments here.
 
This video, filmed by activists, shows several different animals in their pens at Mendoza zoo, including Arturo.

Comments

suffering animals

I do not understand why the suffering animals simply won't be taken out of the zoo if it is not meeting the accepted guidelines. We get so involved in talking and convincing, asking and begging, while those animals are dying. the zoo should be closed because it is not fit to keep the animals, no need to say more. the owners/ managers are criminals because they are breaking the law by not providing the needed conditions for animals. why to converse with criminals? ... could we please have an update on the situation?

Arturo

This is heartbreaking. With the amount of attention this is getting everywhere, Loads of attention in the U.S, Mendoza is seriously hurting any chances of being the host for the next World Cup if they even care.All of those poor animals, this is not how things are supposed to be! People please never, ever take your children to a zoo, circus or SeaWorld/marine theme park. It is inhumane. This is absolutely selfish and heartbreaking. Hang in there Arturo and all of the beautiful animals suffering the same plight....

Arturo and all animals in this zoo.

It is so sad to see a helpless animal mistreated. Especially by governing people.

How can you people live with

How can you people live with yourselves? Dont you see your animals are stressed out depressed and dying from lack of care?! This is disturbing and it honestly breaks my heart to see such a beautiful animal be negected and abused. I think that yes this polar bear needs to take that spot in Canada. We know it will get the proper care it needs there. You call yourselves animal professionals? You fail way below the standards.go find yourself a new carrer cause you arent cut out for this. The only ones i feel sorry for are the animals and the people who come into your zoo and see whats happening. Someone needs to take a stand and do something. The world just doesnt change by itself.

arturo - polar bear

france 24: i am an activist in san francisco - i care and i shepherd a flock of almost 62,000 polar bear activists on my facebook cause page - what can i/we do? i wrote this letter/email to the mendoza zoo - the email was said to be invalid...pls email me at stephanielisatarabooks@gmail.com - pls help me get this below message out; to the zoo and to the people of the world to help arturo. our cause page on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Polar-Bears/417541771650526

~

Dear Mendoza Zoo:

The world has heard the cries of the Polar Bear, Arturo - now suffering in your zoo. It is Christmas—Jesus wants you to do something now.

We will NOT ALLOW this polar bear to die.

I beg of you - on behalf of my entire community - to please get Arturo out of the Argentina sun - and into a safe haven.

I promise you - publicity on this event - we are a strong community of activists.

Please do the right thing today!

Stephanie Lisa Tara
Save Polar Bears
San Francisco
December 20, 2013

What's happening at the

What's happening at the Mendoza Zoo is unacceptable. Pride is taking over reason. Arturo deserves to have a better life after 28 years of torture. The heat during the summer in Mendoza is unbearable, just imagine what it would be like to a polar bear. It's cruelty.
I strongly believe that together we can be a voice for Arturo, a voice loud enough to get the authorities to hear us and Arturo and get him transferred to the refuge in Winnipeg

What's happening at the

What's happening at the Mendoza Zoo is unacceptable. Pride is taking over reason. Arturo deserves to have a better life after 28 years of torture. The heat during the summer in Mendoza is unbearable, just imagine what it would be like to a polar bear. It's cruelty.
I strongly believe that together we can be a voice for Arturo, a voice loud enough to get the authorities to hear us and Arturo and get him transferred to the refuge in Winnipeg

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