Mendoza Zoo and Arturo, the polar bear – Argentina – January 2014

Mendoza Zoo and Arturo, the polar bear - Argentina - January 2014

Since there’s been some controversy about Arturo, the polar bear, and whether or not he should be moved to Canada and since I spend a lot of time in Mendoza, I thought it was time to pay a visit to the zoo. Much has been written about the poor conditions there so it was with a critical eye that I observed the animals. January is mid-summer here so there’s plenty of heat. The first thing I noticed was that there are plenty of shade trees, making it possible to walk in the shade most of the time. This definitely provides a cooling effect for many of the enclosures. Some of the enclosures were mostly in the sun with very little space for the animals to escape the heat.
Many of the enclosures were small for the size of the animals in them, but at least one animal had ample room to roam. The primate in this photo had apparently found or created an opening in his cage and was able to roam at will. He was bothering nobody and nobody was bothering him. (If you visit the zoo, please remember to take all litter away with you so these free-roaming animals come to no harm.)
When I got to Arturo, the polar bear’s enclosure, there was no sign of him so I assume he was sleeping in his cave. I did see the two air conditioners mentioned in one of the articles I read and tarps were keeping the enclosure in the shade. According to the article, ice is being placed in his water frequently.
So, my observations were that this is a zoo that needs some money for improving some of the enclosures. If I were in charge of the zoo, I would phase out the animals such as polar bears, large cats and elephants. I would have less goats and allow some species to mingle with others in larger enclosures. The birds of prey would have a much better life with a trainer to work with them daily, allowing them to exercise their wings with regular flying practice. I would encourage schools to adopt an animal and to suggest ways for the zoo to improve things for their animal. I would encourage public support and suggestions.

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