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  1. ITV Report

Zoo in Argentina refuses to transfer 'world's saddest polar bear' to Canada despite online campaign

Argentina's only captive polar bear will remain in the country despite a petition by almost 700,000 people calling for it to be transferred to Canada.

Scientists and animal rights activists have been attempting to move Arturo the 28-year-old bear, from the sweltering Argentine heat of Mendoza to a zoo in Manitoba, so it can enjoy Canada's much cooler climate.

A petition on Change.org has been signed by supporters from all over the world, including pop star Cher and former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Arturo's partner, a polar bear named Pelusa (Fuzz), died of cancer in 2012. Since then activists say his condition has deteriorated rapidly, which they say can be seen in his constant, agitated pacing of his small enclosure. The petition calls on Argentina President Christina Fernandez to allow Arturo to move to Canada, "where a natural habitat and better life are awaiting him."

We plead that you 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.

– Laura Morales, Change.org
Specialists say the fans are not providing enough cool air to enable the bear to live comfortably. Credit: APTN

But zoo director Gustavo Pronotto said Arturo is suffering only the ailments of old age, which makes the move too risky as he would have to be sedated to travel. A panel of Argentine vets decided back in February he should stay in Mendoza. Pronotto said:

Arturo is close to his caretakers. We just want everyone to stop bothering the bear.

– Gustavo Pronotto

Mariana Caram, an activist based in Mendoza is working to challenge the decision reached in February. She said the zoo is failing to take proper care of the bear.

I saw the bear last Thursday. He came out and he swam just a bit. He's walking very slowly.

They've expanded his pool but they still have yet to give him the room he needs to walk.

– Mariana Caram, OIKOS-Red Ambiental

Campaigners made a short film about their campaign to move Arturo.