Campaign to relocate ‘the world’s saddest animal’ Arturo the polar bear

World Today

Arturo the polar bear In this video frame grab, Arturo, a 29-year-old polar bear, stands inside his concrete enclosure at the zoo in Mendoza, Argentina, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/APTN: Pablo Astie)

Meet Arturo: Argentina’s last polar bear in captivity. Arturo has made headlines recently for his less-than-comfortable living conditions, as well as his increasingly sad demeanor.
Environmentalists are currently fighting to get him moved to Canada, where the cooler temperatures will hopefully lift his spirits and quality of life. The hashtag “#FreeArturo” has also brought attention to the living conditions of the polar bear.

Arturo is a 29-year-old polar bear that makes his home in the warm climate of Argentina. He currently lives at the Mendoza Zoo, the only zoo in Mendoza, Argentina. He is also the last polar bear in the country.

Animal rights advocates say the bear paces nervously in his concrete enclosure and suggest the animal suffers from depression. As his situation becomes more and more well-known internationally, he is being referred to as “the world’s saddest polar bear.”

The hot, dry climate of Argentina is great for tourists hoping to go for a wine tasting at one of its famous vineyards. However, this heat is far from comfortable for the more distant traveler, Arturo.

For some perspective: Temperatures in Argentina can reach 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Polar bears like Arturo are used to living in air temperatures closer to zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), and that’s just in the summer months. In the Arctic winter, temperatures average closer to -34 degrees Celsius (-29 degrees Fahrenheit).

Campaign to relocate 'the world's saddest animal' Arturo the polar bear

Campaign to relocate 'the world's saddest animal' Arturo the polar bear

Meet Arturo: Argentina’s last polar bear in captivity. Arturo has made headlines recently for his less-than-comfortable living conditions, as well as his increasingly sad demeanor. Environmentalists are currently fighting to get him moved to Canada, where the cooler temperatures will hopefully lift his spirits and quality of life.

As we followed up on our original story, we discovered that Arturo continues to be the zoo’s mascot. The polar bear still lives alone in the concrete enclosure: air-conditioned and 35-square meters (375 square feet).

For some perspective:  At the Central Park Zoo, the pool for the polar bears is 10 feet deep and the temperature is not regulated; however, the zoo adjusts the temperatures with the seasons. Each bear has a den with air conditioning to help get through the hottest days of the year.

Meanwhile, guards throw blocks of ice into Arturo’s swimming pool to keep the pool cool. The Mendoza Zoo did not expand his pool, which still remains 20 inches deep.

For some perspective: The size of a polar bear ranges between male and female polar bears, with male polar bears sometimes being two to three times larger than females. A male polar bear like Arturo can range from about 8-10 feet (2.4-3 meters), head to body. Arturo, with his current pool, cannot even submerge half of his body into the water.

Though officials at the Assiniboine Park Conservatory agreed to take Arturo, the move to the north was said to be too much of a strain on the polar bear’s health, according to the Argentine government. The APC still offered to help with suggestions for how to improve Arturo’s quality of life at Mendoza:

“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.” – APC statement

In addition, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency required extensive medical records for any animal coming into the country. This was something that the Conservancy says the Mendoza zoo could not provide.

The Assiniboine Park Conservatory issued a release also stating that, “the 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.”

Both Greenpeace and Change.org started petitions to relocate Arturo to a better facility. The Change.org petition currently has over 730,000 signatures, including those of both celebrities and politicians.

The hashtag “#FreeArturo” has seen more tweets in recent weeks.


The Mendoza Zoo director, Gustavo Pronotto, says the bear is very close with his caretakers. He also asks that Arturo’s fans leave him alone. “We just want everyone to stop bothering the bear,” said Pronotto.

In a recent conversation with the Associated Press,  Pronotto said that the 29-year-old bear would not be relocated.

Arturo was born in the United States in 1985 and moved to Mendoza in 1993.