Argentina zoo rejects moving polar bear to Winnipeg

Argentina's last captive polar bear will remain in the country despite a petition by hundreds of thousands of people asking that he be moved to Canada.
In this March 20, 2014 photo released by Greenpeace, Arturo, a 28-year-old polar bear, walks inside his concrete enclosure at the zoo in Mendoza, Argentina. Despite a petition by hundreds of thousands of people asking for Arturo's relocation to a zoo in Winnipeg that has accepted the polar bear's transfer, the Mendoza Zoo Director said Tuesday that Arturo, will remain in Argentina. (AP Photo/Greenpeace, Delfo Rodriguez) (Delfo Rodriguez/AP Photo/Greenpeace)

Argentina's last captive polar bear will remain in the country despite a petition by hundreds of thousands of people asking that he be moved to Canada.

The director of the Mendoza Zoo in western Argentina told The Associated Press Tuesday the 28-year-old bear will not be relocated to Winnipeg.

Animal rights advocates say the bear named Arturo paces nervously in his concrete enclosure and suggest the animal suffers from depression.

They campaigned to move the bear to the Assiniboine Park Zoo, which has welcomed the idea and just opened its 10-acre Journey to Churchill exhibit which features a world-class polar bear enclosure.

But Mendoza Zoo director Gustavo Pronotto says Arturo only suffers the typical ailments of old age, which would make relocation too risky.

He asks that fans of Arturo "stop bothering the bear."

Statement from Assiniboine Park Conservancy

The following statement was released by the APC last week

"With many recent media reports and an influx of social media and community interest regarding Arturo, a polar bear residing at the Mendoza Zoo in Argentina, the Assiniboine Park Conservancy (APC) is issuing the following 
points of clarification regarding this story.

This information is intended to clarify any errors currently being reported and APC will not be offering further interviews at this time.

  • First and foremost, as a zoological and conservation organization, APC is of course concerned for the well-being of any animal that may be in distress, including Arturo.
  • The Assiniboine Park Zoo began communicating with the Government of Mendoza Province in 2013 about Arturo and whether transferring him to another facility would be feasible and in the bear’s best interests.
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency requires extensive medical records for the import of any animal into Canada. These regulations exist for the protection of Canadian wildlife and agriculture industries and it is not our role or position to question these regulations as they exist for very important reasons. The Mendoza Zoo is not able to fulfill these requirements.
  • Additionally, the Mendoza Zoo has conducted an assessment of Arturo’s health and has concluded that  Arturo is not healthy enough to withstand a lengthy transfer from South America to another facility in North America. The Government of Mendoza has accepted that recommendation and decided that Arturo would remain at the Mendoza Zoo.
  • APC was not invited to participate in the assessment of Arturo’s health, nor have we been given access to his health records, so we have no first-hand knowledge of his condition.
  • When Mendoza informed us of their decision to keep Arturo, we extended an offer of assistance to help make recommendations for possible improvements to his care and living conditions. Travel plans were made for the end of March but were cancelled at the request of Mendoza officials. Mendoza has not invited us to reschedule. This is a standing offer that has not changed.