Arturo was a Polar Bear ‘living’ in Mendoza Zoological Park in Mendoza, Argentina, the only Polar Bear living in the country. The living conditions of the cage Arturo resided in were controversial, as temperatures reach up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit in Argentina, and the pool in Arturo’s cage was only 20 inches deep. Animal rights activists had, in response, dubbed Arturo the “world’s saddest animal” and promoted a petition to have him moved to Assiniboine Park Zoo, a zoo in Winnipeg, Canada. The petition was created by Laura Morales of Hamilton, Ontario. It gained considerable attention after the hashtag #Freearturo began trending on Twitter. Supporters of the petition also noted that a Polar Bear died in Buenos Aires in December 2012 due to excessive heat, and argued that Arturo exhibited symptoms of depression and other mental health problems.
The petition has over 1.5 million signatures, and had been endorsed by Newt Gingrich and Cher. Assiniboine Park Zoo responded that while they would gladly accept Arturo there, they do not have the authority to do so unless Argentina agrees to transfer him there and that the Mendoza zoo could not supply the necessary medical records to make such a trip possible.
Visitors to the zoo, and animal experts, had reported seeing Arturo pacing nervously in his concrete enclosure, and appearing to struggle with the high temperatures.
He has been seen tilting his head and showing his teeth while pacing back and forth, and rocking from side to side – all behaviors widely believed to be symptoms of stress.
Greenpeace and other environmental groups argue that it was riskier to keep the bear in Mendoza, where temperatures can reach up to 86F in the summer.
Arturo only had a shallow pool, said to be only 20in deep, to provide cooling water.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums in its Polar Bear Care Manual dictates that “great care should be taken to monitor the interaction between high temperatures and high humidity”, “Techniques to raise or lower humidity within indoor and outdoor exhibits include …. pools in which the bears can swim.” As you can see, Arturo hasn’t been able to swim for 28 years.
It also dictates in Article 1.3: “institutions must have a regular program of monitoring water quality for polar bear pools and a written record must document long-term water quality results and chemical additions (AZA Accreditation Standard 1.5.9). Monitoring selected water quality parameters provides confirmation of the correct operation of filtration and disinfection of the water supply available for the animals. Additionally, high quality water enhances animal health programs instituted for polar bears” As you can also see here, this seems to be non important to the Authorities in Mendoza, Arturo´s pool is fill with stagnant water.
But Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg, where campaigners wanted the bear moved, has a ten-acre facility that provides as natural an environment as possible for polar bears.
Its $84 million Journey to Churchill exhibit focuses on education and conservation, and the polar bears living there have more space to roam and a more natural setting.
And, when temperatures in Winnipeg get too hot for the arctic creatures, the zoo’s bears have access to a deep, rocky pool.
The Sea Ice Passage is 21 metres long, 3 metres wide and 2.5 metres deep and, while the bears dive and splash around, visitors can watch them through a tunnel that goes underneath the exhibit.
On July 24, the director of the Mendoza Zoo, Gustavo Pronotto, told the Associated Press that Arturo was too old to be moved to Canada. People also advocated for Arturo to be moved to Canada on the internet, using the Facebook and Twitter hashtag #FreeArturo.
On July 3rd, 2016, activists associated with the Free Arturo USA/Canada provided a translation of a death announcement from the zoo’s official website. Arturo was 30 years of age.
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