Stop bothering 'sad' bear, Argentinean zoo official says

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. (AFP PHOTO / Andres LARROVERE)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

A "sad" polar bear that lives at an Argentinean zoo is too old to move and won't be heading for Canada, an official there says.

The Mendoza Zoo's director Gustavo Pronotto told The Associated Press it wouldn't be safe to relocate the 28-year-old bear named Arturo.

"Arturo is close to his caretakers," Pronotto said. "We just want everyone to stop bothering the bear."

It's a decision Argentinean animal rights group EcoLogicos Unidos denounced on its Facebook page, saying the zoo had "condemned Arturo to die."

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.

Activists have also posted videos online showing Arturo — who lives alone — pacing and showing other behaviours interpreted as depression.

A Hamilton, Ont., woman launched a petition on change.org that calls for the bear to be moved to Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo. The petition has nearly 600,000 signatures.

Assiniboine Park Zoo officials said they would welcome Arturo into the recently opened International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, but Mendoza Zoo officials have said the bear isn't healthy enough to move from South America.

Assiniboine officials said they have offered to visit the zoo, inspect Arturo's health and 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," Assiniboine Park Zoo said in a statement.

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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