A petition calling on Argentina to relocate Arturo, nicknamed the saddest polar bear in the world, to a zoo in Winnipeg has reached the half-million mark as calls grow over social media to bring the animal to Canada.
The 29-year-old polar bear currently lives at the Mendoza Zoo in Argentina, where activists say conditions are "deplorable."
According to reports, Arturo lives alone in a concrete enclosure where temperatures reach 38 C. And therein lies the problem. Polar bears have two layers of fur and are best suited for temperatures well below zero.
So Laura Morales of Hamilton, Ont., started a petition several months ago to bring Arturo to Winnipeg's Assiniiboine Park Zoo. the petition has since received worldwide attention.
"We ask that you exercise your authority so the polar bear Arturo, who lives in deplorable condition in the Mendoza Zoo, is moved to Assiniboine Park Zoo in Canada, where a natural habitat and a better life is awaiting him," Morales writes in the change.org petition, which is addressed to Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. "Say no to death and suffering."
The petition, which has a goal of one million signatures, also says Arturo hasn't been able to swim for 28 years and the pool in his habitat is filled with stagnant water.
Officials at the Mendoza Zoo said earlier this year moving the bear would be dangerous due to his age. Officials at Assiniboine Park Zoo have agreed to take Arturo, but after ongoing dialogue with Mendoza Zoo, the move fell apart. The government of Mendoza also vetoed the move due to Arturo's health.
Some emotional videos and photos of Arturo have prompted many, including some celebrities and politicians, to take to social media to express their support for the bear's move north.
Please help Arturo the Polar Bear who's alone & baking in a zoo in Argentina. http://t.co/CvJXp0MckX http://t.co/6QZ5Gxw8juoliviamunn
If you love animals the way I do, please sign the petition to help the Argentinian polar bear, Arturo. His current living situation is very sad, and he deserves to be saved. #freearturonewtgingrich
Thousands of other people have tweeted their support for the move.
FREE ARTURO!!! ARTURO 2 CANADA!!! #Storm4Arturo @CFKArgentina @CasaRosadaAR http://t.co/TEmw7AAEo2Shany Salvatore
FREE ARTURO!!! ARTURO 2 CANADA!!! #Storm4Arturo @CFKArgentina @CasaRosadaAR http://t.co/tJHRiFowaDShany Salvatore
ARTURO 2 CANADA!!!
We wont watch him die!
#Storm4Arturo @CFKArgentina @CasaRosadaAR http://t.co/l1aFKB1bjiShany Salvatore