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WE SUPPORTED

The Arturo campaign, a campaign that fought to bring in experts to examine the status of the polar bear, Arturo, at the Mendoza Zoological Park in Argentina

Ultimately, the goal was to get relief for Arturo. We assisted in requesting, an impartial expert to visit and assess Arturo's psychological and physical health. A sanctuary in Canada was willing to transport him, should his health allow. If not, citizens were pushing for the adaptation of the zoo into an Ecopark that would better meet the needs of the species within their care.

Our affiliate, Zoo Check Canada, had an impartial team of experts ready to send to Argentina, should the government and zoo be in official agreement to allow the team access at no cost to the zoo or government.

Unfortunately, Arturo passed away on July 3, 2016.

Major Issues

Lack of Space

Arturo's exhibit did not offer enough dry walking space, either indoors or outdoors. His outdoor exhibit offered only a small platform of approximately 323 square feet.

Medical Issues

While many of Arturo's medical records were missing or lacked in detail, he had exhibited recorded medical ailments, including lacerations, myiasis, otitis, and low back pain, all likely symptoms from his exhibit.

Psychological Issues

Arturo was observed exhibiting stereotypical behavior and other psychological issues on frequent occasions, a direct indicator of the stress caused by his exhibit.

Concrete Exhibit

Arturo's exhibit lacked any soft substrate, consisting only of concrete, which led to a number of health issues. Lack of proper substrate is extremely important for foot and joint health in any species, and prolonged exposure to hard surfaces causes numerous health issues.

No Enrichment

There were no enrichment programs in place to maintain Arturo's psychological well-being. This can lead to stereotypic behavior, boredom, and other severe psychological issues built up over time.

Inadequate Pool

The water in Arturo's pool was unfiltered and stagnant and had to be brought in from an outside source. The water depth was inconsistent, and half of it he could not submerge in. Additionally, the slope into his pool was dangerous.

Needs Weren't Met

Point blank: Arturo's needs as a species were not being met. His exhibit did not adhere to even the minimum international standards set forth for polar bears.

Poor Temperature Regulation

Temperatures in Argentina can reach upwards of 104°F. Arturo's indoor air conditiong unit was loud and shown to have problems working, temperatures weren't monitored, and there was no regulation on the temperatures of his pool or sprinklers.

History

  • Arturo was born in the U.S. in 1985 and arrived in Mendoza in 1993.
  • He lived at the Mendoza Zoological Park for 23 years.
  • He was the zoo’s mascot.
  • Arturo’s partner, Pelusa, died of cancer in 2012.
  • He was the only polar bear living in Argentina since the death of polar bear, Winner, who died in Buenos Aires in December 2012 due to excessive heat and stress from fireworks.
  • Arturo’s campaign began in October 2012 when a local activist from Ecologicos Unidos posted a video denouncing the conditions at the zoo.
  • Arturo passed away on July 3, 2016.

Our Involvement

  • Reached out to experts on polar bears
  • Contacted US schools and sports teams with polar mascots for support or endorsement
  • Worked with individuals on the ground in Mendoza
  • CLOSED: Supported the petition for Arturo
  • CLOSED: Created a bilingual website for Arturo, savearturo.org

The Fight For Arturo

  • Specialists from Assiniboine Park in Canada offered to assess Arturo and whether he could be moved to their reserve in Canada but after a series of conversations they were declined access last minute by the government.
  • A local activist reached out to the National Fiscal Unit of Investigations on Environment Matters (UFIMA) and a committee came out and assessed Arturo for two days.
  • Greenpeace Argentina approached Mendoza’s Governor to ask him to take effective action on Arturo’s case, and he agreed on having a medical committee assess Arturo’s health.
  • The Governor appointed a new Environment Minister and zoo director, who was at that moment, the president of the Bureau of Veterinaries in Mendoza.
  • The new zoo director called a medical committee to assess Arturo, which was only a visual evaluation that lasted all of two hours in February 2014. No polar bear experts took place in the committee, and it was decided that he was too old to move.
  • The committee recommended changes to the exhibit that included adding soft substrate, keeping a daily record of temperatures, making sure filters and associated equipment for pool water worked, and enlarging the internal dormitory, keeping the current conditions of refrigeration.
  • Meanwhile, UFIMA continued their assessment, concluding that the zoo make the following changes: refrigerating the swimming pool water and water of sprinklers, installing filters to improve lifespan of water in the swimming pool, lowering indoor dormitory temperature, implementing environmental enrichment, with games and challenges, through feeding and entertainment, adding soft substrate, keeping a daily record of temperatures, making sure filters and associated equipment for pool water work, and enlarging the internal dormitory.
  • Despite this more complete set of recommendations, the Government of Mendoza and zoo authorities acknowledged only the more limited set of recommendations suggested by the Medical Committee in February 2014 and state they are working towards achieving those. But none of the original four recommendations were fully implemented.