Online Petition Calls for Zoo to Transfer 'Depressed' Polar Bear
Updated: Monday, July 14 2014, 04:48 PM EDT
A petition to move a "depressed" polar bear from "deplorable" conditions in Argentina's Mendoza Zoo to a colder clime in Canada is nearing its goal of 50,000 signatures.
It's not the first time animal activists have sought to have the bear removed from the zoo, where temperatures can reach 104 degrees, AOL.com reports. Arturo the bear has been there for about 20 years, but recent behavior, such as rocking back and forth and showing his teeth, is concerning zoo-goers and activists alike. [click here for a video of the bear in its enclosure]
Last year officials with the Winnipeg zoo confirmed to CBC news that an offer to take Arturo was declined.
"We have been informed by the Mendoza Zoo that, although they appreciate our offer, they have elected not to relocate their remaining polar bear at this time," Tim Sinclair-Smith, the Assiniboine Park Zoo's director of zoological operations, wrote in a statement to CBC News last year. "We have let them know that our offer still stands and we will of course keep the public informed if anything further develops."
The online petition, hosted on change.org, states; "We plead that intervene on this issue and ask the officials in Mendoza who have the polar bear Arturo prisoner to accept Arturo's transfer to the reserve so he can live in suitable conditions. In December 2012, a polar bear died in Buenos Aires due to heat, causing unease in Argentina and in the international community."
Earlier this year a medical board decided it would be dangerous to move the bear due to his health and advanced age, FOX News Latino reported, after a group of experts made a study of the animal.
"All members of the medical board decided unanimously that, due to the high risks he runs at his age, Arturo should not be moved," Gustavo Pronotto, director of the Mendoza zoo, located at some 1,050 kilometers (650 miles) west of Buenos Aires, told Efe.
But Gabriel Flores, an activist of the Ecologists United movement which has been fighting for Arturo, told FOX News Latino that the evaluation was visual, observing the bear from a distance.
A Reddit campaign for the bear has so far raised nearly $5,000.