Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City zoo tries to save Argentine polar bear

Old animal 'going insane' from heat, lack of space

  • Print

The last polar bear known to live in captivity in Argentina is the focus of a Winnipeg-based rescue effort to bring the aging animal north.

The Assiniboine Park Zoo is willing to take in 25-year-old Arturo. Born in captivity, the aging polar bear has spent 20 years in the hot Argentine climate at a Mendoza, Argentina, zoo.

"The Assiniboine Park Zoo has indeed spoken to the Mendoza zoo regarding their potential need to relocate a polar bear, and we have offered our facility as an option for them," Tim Sinclair-Smith, the Winnipeg zoo's director of zoological operations, said in an email Friday.

A distressing YouTube video posted March 26 is triggering the calls for international intervention.

A Winnipeg woman, originally from Argentina, is reportedly pushing the campaign here but could not be reached for comment Friday.

In the 54-second YouTube clip, Arturo is shown pacing forward and backward, swaying side to side, again and again across a small space barely bigger than himself. Sporadically, he mouths at the air, his lip curling back over his teeth.

The behaviour is a sign of an animal crazed by lack of space and heat stress, said Bill McDonald, the chief executive officer of the Winnipeg Humane Society.

In response to the video, the humane society called on the Canadian government to use diplomacy to persuade the Argentine government to release the bear.

"For God's sake... get that bear out of there," McDonald said.

"Animals in captivity express themselves if they're going insane by stereotypical movements. That's what the two steps forward, two steps back is and his head rocking back and forth.

"It's basically going insane," he said.

The Argentina eEmbassy is in downtown Ottawa within sight of the Parliament Buildings. A call for comment was not answered Friday.

Mendoza officials have rebuffed the Winnipeg zoo's offer.

"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," Sinclair-Smith's email said.

But Winnipeg zoo is leaving the door open.

"We have let them know that our offer still stands and we will, of course, keep the public informed if anything further develops," Sinclair-Smith said.

This isn't the first bear to suffer from zoos in climates too hot for the Arctic animal to tolerate.

Another bear in a zoo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, exhibited similar behaviour before it had a heat stroke and died in December. Several years ago, a group of polar bears were rescued in Mexico.

The latest death left Arturo as the only polar bear in captivity in an Arguentine zoo, McDonald said.

"This bear will die of heat stroke like the other one. The heat is killing them," he said.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 13, 2013 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Cheap summer weekends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local-(Standup photo)- A wood duck swims through the water with fall refections in Kildonan Park Thursday afternoon.
  • Down the Hatch- A pelican swallows a fresh fish that it caught on the Red River near Lockport, Manitoba. Wednesday morning- May 01, 2013   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Winnipeg control growth to deal with climate change?

View Results

Ads by Google