Arturo the polar bear has been blocked from entering Canada, say Assiniboine Park Zoo officials.
The Assiniboine Park Conservancy has been in talks with Arturo’s current zoo, the Mendoza Zoo in Argentina, to determine whether a transfer to Winnipeg would be in the animal’s best interest. To do so, a Canadian import permit must be issued from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The APC forwarded import permit requirements to the officials at the Mendoza Zoo, which included specific medical records dating back a minimum of three years. The Argentinean zoo has confirmed they are unable to supply the records, thereby negating any possibility of receiving the import permit.
"There are very strict regulations that must be met to bring animals into Canada," Don Peterkin, Chief Operations Officer for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, said in a release. "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."
Maria Fernanda Arentsen, a Spanish professor at Université de Saint-Boniface, told The Sou’wester in October 2013 there have been protests in Mendoza to move Arturo to Canada after a 14-year-old polar bear, named Winner, died of hyperthermia and shock in Buenos Aires City Zoo in 2012.
The APC had planned on visiting Arturo to assess him but the trip was cancelled in early November. APC representatives have now agreed to participate in a meeting via Skype on Feb. 7 to participate in the assessment of Arturo’s health. APC has also offered to send a member of its veterinary team in the near future to evaluate Arturo’s existing enclosure and to provide recommendations for improvements.