'World's saddest' polar bear not healthy enough for transfer: conservancy

Arturo, the only polar bear in Argentina, living in captivity at a zoo in Mendoza, 1050 km west of...

Arturo, the only polar bear in Argentina, living in captivity at a zoo in Mendoza, 1050 km west of Buenos Aires, is pictured at his enclosure on February 5, 2014. Specialists and activists are lobbying to transfer old Arturo to a zoo in Canada to spare him from the Argentine heat. AFP PHOTO / Andres LARROVERE

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:54 PM ET

WINNIPEG -- More than 300,000 people have signed a Canadian woman's petition to get a polar bear dubbed "the world's saddest animal" moved from the scorching Argentina zoo, where he's been living for 20 years.

The petition, posted on change.org, calls on Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to help move Arturo to "a natural habitat and a better life" at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg.

The zoo, which earlier this month opened its International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, says they'd love to bring Arturo home, but it's not up to them.

"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," Assiniboine Park Conservancy said in a release.

Photos circulating the Internet show Arturo seemingly roasting on sun-baked rocks in his enclosure at Mendoza Zoo, where it's said temperatures can reach more than 38 C (100 F).

APC began discussions about moving Arturo in 2013, and whether transferring him to another facility would help the bear.

But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency requires extensive medical records for the import of any animal into Canada, and the Argentina zoo can't fulfill those 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 said.

APC said they offered to fly out and inspect Arturo's health but were not invited to, and have no first-hand knowledge of his status.

After learning the bear would stay in Argentina, APC also offered to fly out to make recommendations to improve his care. 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," the zoo said.

Activists have posted video showing the 29-year-old bear -- who lives alone -- pacing and showing other behaviours interpreted as depression.

Environment Canada classifies polar bears as a species "of special concern."

CLICK PHOTO TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OF ARTURO

Arturo, the only polar bear in Argentina, living in captivity at a zoo in Mendoza, 1050 km west of Buenos Aires, is pictured at his enclosure on February 5, 2014. Specialists and activists are lobbying to transfer old Arturo to a zoo in Canada to spare him from the Argentine heat. AFP PHOTO / Andres LARROVERE


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