A petition has been created online in order to gather support for the polar bear Arturo, described as the world’s saddest animal. Animal activists and concerned citizens around the world are pleading with officials to allow the bear to have a better life at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Canada.
So far, over 800,000 have signed the petition urging officials to ask those in Mendoza, Argentina who have the polar bear held captive, to release him so that he can have a better life up in Canada.
This isn’t the first time that there has been trouble in Argentina over the conditions of polar bears that are held captive. Previously, the polar bear Winner, died from heat exhaustion in a Buenos Aires Zoo. The death of Winner angered local citizens and animal activists around the world, fuelling many to call for action to have the polar bears be returned from foreign climates that cause them stress and harm, to a climate that resembles where they naturally belong.
Polar bears do not have any physical means of staying cool; they rely on behavior to do that. They try to make as much shade for themselves as possible during the times when it’s warm and try to cool off in the cold water when they overheat. In Argentina, temperatures can reach up to 40°C (104°F).
Some animal specialists have affirmed that they believe Arturo is “slowly going insane,” as they witness him repeating the same actions “over and over again,” due to the mental and physical stress that he has, and continues to endure. He has been at the zoo for 21 years now, those who know him say that he has become increasingly depressed since the passing of his only companion, Pelusa, to cancer back in 2012. He is now the only polar bear that remains in Argentina.
“Zoochosis is repetitive behaviour that is developed by animals in captivity,” says Soledad Sede of Greenpeace Argentina. “In Arturo’s case, this manifests as him walking back and forth, like he wants to go somewhere and can’t.”
But Zoo director Gustavo Pronotto argues the bear is well taken care of. “The bear is better off than a lot of Mendoza residents,” he says. “He has three air conditioners, a pool with 200,000 litres of filtered water, and his water is changed each week. We ask that you let us work and leave us in peace – both the bear and me.”
Assiniboine Zoo in Canada was recommended as a potential destination earlier in the year for Arturo because it maintains a sanctuary for the bears. However, the plan allegedly failed because the Mendoza Zoo was unable to provide three years of medical records for Arturo.
Zoo director Gustavo Pronotto says that the bear is already too old to move to a new location and that he would “have trouble adapting to a colder climate” after 21 years in Mendoza.
One might wonder about the management of the zoo, if they can’t even locate any medical records from the last three years. Do their animals not see specialists on a regular basis? The health of other animals that are being held captive at the zoo have also been questioned. At the end of the day we can only hope that people will stop visiting this zoo and that they will stop spending their money supporting companies that are guilty of inhumane actions or are guilty of overlooking them.