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'World's Saddest Polar Bear' Arturo Dies At Mendoza Zoo, Argentina, After More Than 20 Years In Captivity

More than 1 million people called for him to be moved to a cooler climate.

05/07/2016 12:17

The "world's saddest polar bear" has died after more than 20 years in captivity despite more than 1 million people calling for him to be moved to a more appropriate facility.

Arturo, who lived most of his life at Mendoza Zoo, was the only polar bear in Argentina - a country where temperatures can soar to 40C.

The 30-year-old mammal was brought to the world's attention two years ago after a petition was launched calling for him to be moved to Canada's cooler climate. At that time Arturo became better known as the "world's saddest polar bear". 

AFP via Getty Images
Arturo, pictured in 2014, died on Sunday. He was dubbed the 'world's loneliest polar bear'.

More than 1.2 million people called for the Argentine government to move Arturo out of the "deplorable conditions" he endured at the zoo. 

Those concerned for the polar bear's welfare asked that he be moved to Assiniboine Park Zoo in Canada "where a natural habitat and a better life are awaiting him".

But officials refused to relocate the polar bear, citing his old age as a reason why he should not be moved.

Arturo's partner, Pelusa, died in 2012, and it is believed that Argentina's last polar bear developed depression after that.

Arturo died on Sunday from complications associated with old age.

AFP via Getty Images
A petition calling for Arturo to be moved garnered more than 1 million signatures.

The polar bear was born in the US and moved to Argentina when he was eight years old.

The Born Free Foundation released a statement in the wake of Arturo's death highlighting the "substandard conditions" the polar bear endured for more than 20 years.

The wildlife charity said that the wild animal lived in an environment that was "completely unsuitable and unnatural".

AFP via Getty Images
Arturo pictured in his enclosure at Mendoza Zoo in 2014.

Born Free said: "While there are considerable threats facing wild polar bear habitat, the Born Free Foundation believes that keeping and breeding more bears in zoos has no genuine role to play in polar bear conservation.

"Experience of polar bears in zoos the world over has shown us time and again that polar bears simply do not fare well in captivity, particularly in zoos in hot climates.

"Sadly, polar bears remain commonly kept in zoos in countries such as Mexico and Singapore, and until quite recently, Chile and South Africa."

In the wild polar bears can swim hundreds of miles. In captivity, disturbing behaviour has been documented, showing the animals rocking back and forth and pacing. Arturo was filmed exhibiting such repetitive behaviour.

The revelation that polar bears do not thrive in captivity has led to most zoos in the UK phasing the animals out.

Following Arturo's death, hundreds of people have shared their sadness over his life in captivity. 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shared an image of the polar bear, with a caption reading :"RIP Arturo. You didn't deserve this." 

Other people shared images of the animal in his barren enclosure, using #RIPArturo on social media.

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