RIP Arturo: “World’s saddest polar bear” dies in Argentina zoo

Arturo lived in a place that doesn’t know snow and where temperatures routinely soar to 40C.

The polar bear’s health deteriorated, yet he remained in a concrete enclosure at the Mendoza Zoo in Argentina for 22 years despite a worldwide campaign to move him to a more suitable climate.

There was even a recent proposal to move him to a zoo in Canada, which was rejected by local officials. Arturo was too old, they said, to make the journey. His partner, Pelusa died of cancer four years ago, which prompted Arturo to become “depressed,” according to animal welfare experts.

Over the weekend, the “world’s saddest polar bear” died at age 30. He was Argentina’s last captive polar bear.

The zoo announced the news on July 3.

Veterinarians did everything they could, the facility said. But Arturo’s condition had deteriorated irreversibly. He wasn’t eating, couldn’t see or smell. He died peacefully, the zoo said.

“Since Friday, officials of the Ministry of Environment and Land Management, led by Humberto Mingorance, with the team of veterinarians ride and Fiscal Unit Environment Nation (UFIMA) accompanied the Polar Bear, contemplating to put you to sleep to avoid suffering and out of all instances of treatment, but the nature took its course and passed away this afternoon,” the zoo said.

Arturo arrived in Mendoza at age 8 from the United States. Zoo officials said he had been “carefully” tended to throughout his life. But animal rights activists disagreed.

Arturo in March, 2105 posted by Free Arturo USA/Canada support/Facebook
Arturo in March, 2105 posted by Free Arturo USA/Canada support/Facebook

More than a million people signed a petition to have the polar bear moved. This 2014 photo of the lonely bear, cuddled to a small patch of ice and snow, drew global attention to his plight.


Animal lovers were devastated to hear of Arturo’s death and turning to social media to reflect on the news.

The Free Arturo USA/Canada support group posted this on Facebook:

“It is with the heaviest of hearts to inform you that Dear Dear Arturo gave up his fight to live, and passed away today…..
I am at a loss for words right now and I know all of you share these feelings of sadness and heartbreak…….
Dear beautiful Arturo I wish you had known of the so many people worldwide who loved you, who fought for you, who tried so hard to bring your plight more awareness…….
It is too late now to wish of things that could have been …or wish your life could have been different…
You were surrounded by people finally during your last days who truly cared for you for the first time in your life…
I pray that you felt the love from these people and you felt the compassion they tried to show you and the comfort and peace they tried to give you until you took Your Last Breath….”

Arturo in March, 2016 posted by Free Arturo USA/Canada support/Facebook
Arturo in March, 2016 posted by Free Arturo USA/Canada support/Facebook

Main photo Mendoza Zoo

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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