Ever since Arturo’s long term-companion Pelusa died in 2012, the 29 year old Argentinian polar bear fell into a deep depression, often exhibiting bizarre behaviour, with experts warning that he is on a downwards spiral.
Not only is he completely alone, Arturo also has to endure unbearable living conditions for a polar bear, in his Mendoza zoo home. With a pool that isn’t even a metre deep, his tiny enclosure often reaches temperatures of 40 degrees (polar bears usually live in climates of MINUS 40 degrees) and he has been living like this for 20 years.
Video footage taken by a visitor to the zoo reveals just how dire the situation is, showing the depressed bear pacing around his cage, burying his face in his paw, bearing his teeth and collapsing in a heap on the floor, refusing to move.
Bill McDonald, CEO of the Winnipeg Humane Society says “He methodically does the same thing over and over and over and over. And it’s really an indication that he’s going slowly insane”.
News of Arturo’s bleak situation has rapidly picked up speed, with the plight of the bear becoming a global concern. Twitter activists have been circulating a ‘Free Arturo petition’, which was recently presented to Argentina’s president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
The petition highlights the bear’s failing mental and physical health and is pushing for Arturo to be transferred to a new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre in Canada, with a more appropriate climate and the company of other polar bears.
The campaign to free Arturo initially began months ago, with a Canadian zoo entering talks with Mendoza zoo which eventually fell through through due to the inability of the zoo to provide animal medical records.
However, many believe the Argentinian zoo had little intention of letting Arturo go, with the zoo often citing major concerns regarding the bear not being able to survive the sedation needed for a transfer to Canada. Ultimately, the zoo’s main concern is clearly for profits, as Arturo is the main attraction.
Despite experts agreeing that there is risk involved to Arturo’s health with the long journey to Canada, they all believe it is certainly worth it. As Maria Fernanda Arentsen, a Canadian Professor who lead the push to relocate the bear explains “Arturo is in a small cage, with no space to walk, he has no stimulation, and the weather is awful for a polar bear”.
Hopefully Arturo finds a happy, healthy new home soon.