Argentinian polar bear not coming to Winnipeg

Don Peterkin, COO of Assiniboine Park Conservancy, said in a news release Wednesday it is not going to be possible for the Mendoza zoo to get a permit from Canadian authorities for polar bear Arturo to move to the Winnipeg zoo.
Arturo, a polar bear in a South American zoo, could soon call Winnipeg home. 1:58

Arturo won't be coming to Winnipeg, after all.

Don Peterkin, COO of Assiniboine Park Conservancy, said in a news release Wednesday afternoon getting a permit to allow the bear to come to Winnipeg is not possible.

"After a great deal of collaboration, it does not appear that a Canadian import permit can be issued for Arturo," he said.

Peterkin said zoo officials here told their counterparts at the Mendoza zoo that they would have to fulfil the requirements of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for an import permit.

But he said that would mean Argentinian officials would have to supply medical records dating back at least three years.

Peterkin said Mendoza representatives have said they don't have those documents, so the case is closed.

“There are very strict regulations that must be met to bring an animal into Canada,” he said in a news release. “These regulations are in place to ensure the health and welfare of animals and animal-related industries so without the proper health records in place it’s simply not possible to obtain the permits required.”

Earlier Wednesday, a Winnipeg woman was hopeful Arturo would be coming to Winnipeg to take up residence at Assiniboine Park Zoo, something she has spent months lobbying for.

Universite de St. Boniface professor Maria Arentsen ​ said she was excited that this weekend, veterinarians and biologists are examining the 28-year-old animal to see if he is fit enough to travel. 

Peterkin said Winnipeg zoo officials are, however, meeting via Skype on Friday, Feb. 7, the day of Arturo's medical exam, to help in assessing Arturo’s health.

He said Winnipeg has offered to send a member of its veterinarian team to Mendoza to evaluate the bear's environment and provide tips to improve it, if necessary.