Arturo the polar bear of Mendoza Zoo in Argentina is in distress. In 2012 his mate died and he seems to be depressed ever since. In addition, the climate of Argentina’s summer is absolutely not suitable for a polar bear and Arturo is exhausted from the heat. The polar bear is showing abnormal stereotype behaviour due to its unnatural and unsuited captive situation at Mendoza Zoo.
Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo has offered to adopt Arturo, and even pay for transport costs, to alleviate the suffering of the 29-year old bear. An article on the website phys.org of 6 February suggested the only barrier for the animal’s change of venue would be if a medical checkup by veterinarians would show that he is not fit to endure the long trip to Winnipeg, Canada. But as a matter of fact it now turns out that Canadian veterinary regulation will prohibit Arturo to travel to colder climate.
The Assiniboine Park Conservancy (APC) has been in ongoing discussions with the Mendoza Zoo in Argentina regarding Arturo, to help determine if a transfer to another facility would be in the animal’s best interest. After a great deal of collaboration, it does not appear that a Canadian import permit can be issued for Arturo.
As part of discussions between the two organisations, APC representatives forwarded CFIA’s (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) import permit requirements to officials at the Mendoza Zoo. These requirements include a critical need for specific medical records dating back a minimum of three years and Mendoza representatives have confirmed that they are unable to fulfill this requirement, thereby negating any possibility of a permit being issued.
“There are very strict regulations that must be met to bring an animal into Canada,” said Don Peterkin, Chief Operations Officer with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. “These regulations are in place to ensure the health and welfare of animals and animal-related industries so without the proper health records in place it’s simply not possible to obtain the permits required.”
APC representatives have agreed to participate in a meeting via Skype on Friday, February 7th, to assist in the assessment of Arturo’s health. In addition, APC has offered to send a member of its veterinarian team to Mendoza in the near future to help evaluate his existing environment and, if possible, provide recommendations for improvements.
In addition the Winnipeg humane society is calling on the Canadian government to pressure the Argentinian government to have the polar bear moved out of the Mendoza Zoo. Bill McDonald, CEO of the Winnipeg Humane Society, says Argentina’s hot weather is just not suitable for a polar bear. On the YouTube video Arturo shows signs of abnormal stereotype behaviour, rocking from side to side repeatedly:
(Source: Assiniboine Park Conservancy news release, 05.02.2014; phys.org/biology/plants & animals, 06.02.2014; YouTube – Besidefilm, 07.02.2014)