Experts nix Canada move for sad Argentine polar bear

Feb 08, 2014
Arturo, the only polar bear in Argentina, seen in captivity at a zoo in Mendoza, 1,050 km west of Buenos Aires, on February 5, 2014

A polar bear said to be depressed in Argentina will not move to Canada, after veterinary experts said the trip would be too dangerous to his health.

The fate of Arturo the bear, 29 years old and weighing in at 400 kilograms (900 pounds), has for months been the subject of controversy, as Greenpeace and questioned the animal's living conditions at the Mendoza site.

He is the last in captivity in Argentina, and critics feared the temperatures, particularly in summer when they can soar to between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius (95 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit), were unhealthy for an animal typically found in arctic climates.

Greenpeace had gathered 160,000 signatures in a campaign to transfer Arturo urgently to Canada, where weather more closely matches that of his .

A zoo in Winnipeg, Canada, had offered to adopt him, proposing to also pay the costs of transporting the animal 15,000 kilometers (9,300 miles) north.

But after experts from Argentina, Canada, Chile and Uruguay considered the case, they decided it was best to leave Arturo in Argentina, his home for the past 20 years.

Arturo, the only polar bear in Argentina, seen in captivity at a zoo in Mendoza, 1,050 km west of Buenos Aires, on February 5, 2014

The experts said on Friday the trip was risky because it would require anesthetizing the aging bear for 24 to 48 hours, and ultimately, "he is fine, in good condition" right where he is.

"This is an animal that is 29 and has exceeded the normal life expectancy of 21 years," said Eduardo Francisco, director of Temaiken, a renowned private zoo in Argentina.

"A significant sedation would seriously compromise, physically, an animal of this age and species," he said.

Experts say Arturo was also deeply saddened by the death in May 2012 of Pelusa, his mate for two decades, at age 30. She had several cubs, but none survived.

"Arturo never emerged from his state of depression," Mendoza zoo director Gustavo Pronotto said.

As the zoo's mascot, he has an air-conditioned, 35-square-meter (375-square-foot) enclosure, a 500-square-meter beach and a swimming pool in which his guards throw blocks of ice to keep it cool.

Explore further: Lowly 'new girl' chimps form stronger female bonds

Related Stories

Polar bear dies at South African zoo

Jan 15, 2014

One of South Africa's two polar bears has died at the Johannesburg Zoo, leaving its mate now believed to be the only polar bear in Africa, a veterinarian said Wednesday.

Sloth bear cub debuts at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

Jun 24, 2013

The daring and adventurous sloth bear cub, Hank, made his public debut at the Smithsonian's National Zoo today. He is the first sloth bear born at the Zoo in seven years. Born Dec. 19, 2012, Hank and his ...

Recommended for you

Estuaries protect Dungeness crabs from deadly parasites

12 hours ago

Parasitic worms can pose a serious threat to the Dungeness crab, a commercially important fishery species found along the west coast of North America. The worms are thought to have caused or contributed to ...

An evolutionary heads-up—the brain size advantage

13 hours ago

A larger brain brings better cognitive performance. And so it seems only logical that a larger brain would offer a higher survival potential. In the course of evolution, large brains should therefore win ...

Our bond with dogs may go back more than 27,000 years

May 21, 2015

Dogs' special relationship to humans may go back 27,000 to 40,000 years, according to genomic analysis of an ancient Taimyr wolf bone reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 21. Earlier genome ...

Social structure 'helps birds avoid a collision course'

May 21, 2015

The sight of skilful aerial manoeuvring by flocks of Greylag geese to avoid collisions with York's Millennium Bridge intrigued mathematical biologist Dr Jamie Wood. It raised the question of how birds collectively ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

The Shootist
3 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2014
aw crap, give him some bear strength Valium on a titrated drip and all will be well. he'll be all la-la-la in whatever bear ecstasy feels like.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.