A polar bear who has been deemed the "world's saddest" by media outlets will not be leaving his Argentine enclosure for Canada.
Mendoza Zoo director Gustavo Pronotto said Arturo, who has been the focus of a petition after images on the Internet showed him looking lethargic and stressed, said the bear is merely showing signs of aging and is too old to make the long journey north, The Associated Press reported.
"Arturo is close to his caretakers," Pronotto told the news service. "We just want everyone to stop bothering the bear."
Veterinarians in the South American country determined he should stay there in February. But that means he will remain in a place where temperatures can reach up to 35 degrees Celsius, and one of the only ways he can keep cool is in a shallow pool. The animals adapt well to temperatures that can drop as low as -45 degrees Celsius, according to Polar Bears International.
The petition to move Arturo, which had almost 590,000 supporters on Tuesday, calls on Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to "exercise (her) authority" so that Arturo can be moved to Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo.
The zoo began talks about moving the bear with Mendoza Province in 2013, according to a statement that was posted by CBC News.
It said that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency must receive "extensive medical records for the import of any animal into Canada," but that Mendoza Zoo could not meet these requirements.
Officials at the Winnipeg zoo had also planned to travel to Argentina in March to assist with Arturo's health. Those plans were cancelled at the request of people in Mendoza.
Assiniboine Park Zoo representatives have not been invited to reschedule, but the offer remains open, the statement said.
The Winnipeg zoo employees certainly have experience in the area. Earlier this year, the zoo opened a 10-acre Journey to Churchill exhibit with habitat for polar bears, wolves, muskox and caribou. The zoo also has the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, which carries out research into the animals.
Here are some photos of Arturo in his enclosure at Mendoza Zoo:
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