The future of Arturo the polar bear, one of the main attractions at the zoo in the Argentine province of Mendoza, is no longer a mystery. A medical board decided that, because of his advanced age and the fragile state of his health, it is not advisable to move him anywhere.
Arturo, 29, will remain at the zoo after a group of experts composed of veterinarians and staff members made a study of the animal and concluded Friday that it was not practicable to change his residence.
"All members of the medical board decided unanimously that, due to the high risks he runs at his age, Arturo should not be moved," Gustavo Pronotto, director of the Mendoza zoo, located at some 1,050 kilometers (650 miles) west of Buenos Aires, told Efe.
Environmentalists did not agree.
"The evaluation they did was visual, without touching him, observing him from a distance," complained Gabriel Flores, an activist of the Ecologists United movement, which for more than a year had denounced Arturo's living conditions.
"They only checked how he walks, how he eats, and how he swims. It was a halfway fake evaluation that doesn't convince us at all," he said.
Pictures of Arturo in the scorching 40 C (104 F) heat of the arid city of Mendoza during the Southern Hemisphere summer shocked Argentine society and sparked a debate about sending the bear to an ecological reserve in Canada or some other polar bear-friendly climate.
"This is a polar bear in the middle of the desert," Flores said.
Pronotto rebuffed Ecologists United's charges and told Efe that the problem with Canada is that it demands "health requirements" different from the "health standards" required in Argentina.
"We always knew it would end up like this," the activist complained. EFE