US & Canada

Petition to move 'sad' polar bear to Canada

Arturo the polar bear appeared in Mendoza, Argentina, on 5 February 2014 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Arturo is the only polar bear currently housed in Argentina

Nearly 200,000 people have signed a petition to get a despondent polar bear moved from Argentina to Canada.

Arturo, nicknamed "the world's saddest animal", lives alone in a concrete enclosure in Mendoza, where temperatures can top 100F (38C).

The bear, 29, has been seen pacing in his pen and showing behaviour some have likened to depression.

Photos of him circulated online have led hundreds of thousands of people to urge his transfer to a zoo in Winnipeg.

The director of the Mendoza Zoo said earlier this year it would be unsafe to move the bear due to his age, but that hasn't stopped some high-profile support for a move.

"If you love animals the way I do, you're going to want to sign the petition to save the Argentinian polar bear, Arturo," former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.

"His current living situation is very sad, and he deserves to be saved."

Image copyright AFP

Animal rights groups have expressed concern for Arturo, whose enclosure partner, Pelusa, died two years ago.

An online petition calling on Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to transfer Arturo to Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg has garnered a great deal of attention.

The Canadian zoo - which opened its International Polar Bear Conservation Centre earlier this month - has previously said it would accept Arturo, but the decision to transfer him rests with the Argentinian zoo.

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