Arturo, the only polar bear in Argentina, living in captivity at a zoo in Mendoza, Argentina -- west of Buenos Aires -- is pictured at his enclosure on Feb. 5, 2014.
The Internet community has a lot of love for its ursine friends — and now it's banding together to save one.
A Change.org petition has received more than 250,000 signatures to save Arturo, a 29-year-old polar bear, who currently resides in Mendoza Zoo in Mendoza, Argentina.
The petition demands that Arturo — the last living in polar bear in the country — be moved from the zoo where he is living under "deplorable conditions" to one that can better suit his needs.
Video evidence depicts Arturo's living conditions as including a small, shallow pool of water, temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) and "a picture of snow."
In 2012, his enclosure partner, Pelusa, died living in similar conditions. The petition says the living enviornment is in breach of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Polar Bear Care Manual, which calls for careful attention to water quality and air temperature. (This video appears to show Arturo in a dark, shallow pool as he is wetted down with a hose.)
Bill McDonald, CEO of the Winnipeg Humane Society, has commented that Arturo is "going insane" because the conditions are unsuitable for a polar bear. McDonald referenced the YouTube video below and Arturo's uncharacteristic rocking back and forth — known as stereotyping or stereotypy movements — as evidence of Arturo's distressed mental state.
(Note: If you are particularly sensitive to the plight of animals, you may find this video upsetting.)
The campaign to move Arturo to the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Canada has existed since 2013, but has seen renewed support due to the petition, with celebrities and politicians calling for Arturo's transfer to a zoo that would be a better fit for him.
The Assiniboine Park Zoo — with its International Polar Bear Conservation Centre — has tried to contact the Mendoza Zoo, but was reportedly unsuccessful in trying to arrange a transfer earlier this year.
The Mendoza Zoo had rejected the Canadian zoo's initial offers, citing Arturo's old age as the reason he would likely not survive the trip under anesthesia, according to the CBC. Transferring Arturo would also mean compliance with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's strict regulations, which require specific records about him dating back at least three years that the Mendoza Zoo does not apparently have.
According to Rob Laidlaw with Zoocheck Canada, zoos typically don't like giving up an animal — either because it means losing a star attraction or because it's a sign that the zoo is doing something wrong.
Though Laidlaw isn't a supporter of zoos in general, he told the CBC that conditions like those in the Assiniboine Park Zoo are much more favorable than that of the Mendoza Zoo where Arturo is "clearly in distress."
"I know people have said that there's a risk, should Arturo be moved, that there may be death along the way," Laidlaw told the CBC. "I think the risk is worth it because Arturo is basically the walking dead right now."
The Mendoza Zoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tags: ANIMALS, ARGENTINA, CANADA, POLAR BEAR, US & World, WORLD