A polar bear in an Argentinian zoo will remain in the hot South American country despite a petition requesting he be moved to Canada. The appeal was signed by more than half a million people.
The petition on the Change.org website asks that Argentinian President Christina Fernandez allow the bear, who is called Arturo, to be relocated to a zoo in Canada. As of Tuesday, it had more than 600,000 signatures.
Arturo’s friends include former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“If you love animals the way I do, please sign the petition to help the Argentinian polar bear, Arturo. His current living condition is very sad, and he deserves to be saved,” wrote Gingrich on his Facebook page.
The bear paces nervously in his concrete enclosure and animal rights advocates say he suffers from depression.
Campaigners have dubbed Arturo “the world's saddest animal,” and have found him a new home at a zoo in Winnipeg, Mantitoba, Canada.
Arturo is particularly lonely because his long-term partner Pelusa, which translates to “Fuzz,” died in 2012.
But the director of Mendozo Zoo, Gustavo Pronotto, has said that Arturo can’t be moved because he is too old. A panel of Argentinian vets said that moving him would be too risky because he would have to be sedated.
“Arturo is close to his caretakers. We just want everyone to stop bothering the bear,” said Pronotto.
But Mariana Carem from the environmental group OIKOS-Red Ambiental said they are working on a report to challenge the vets’ decision to keep the bear in Argentina.
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“I saw the bear last Thursday. He came out and he swam just a bit. He’s walking very slowly. They’ve expanded his pool but they still have yet to give him the room he needs to walk,” she said.
Greenpeace are also arguing that it is riskier to keep the bear in Mendoza, where temperatures can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer. The last polar bear living in the zoo died in a heat wave in 2012.