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Updated: Wed, 05 Feb 2014 13:45:01 GMT | By CBC News,

Argentinian polar bear could be closer to coming to Winnipeg

Argentinian polar bear could be closer to coming to Winnipeg

A Winnipeg woman hopes a polar bear in a zoo in Argentina is closer to coming to the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Maria Arentsen has been trying to bring Arturo to Winnipeg for months.

The Universite de St. Boniface professor said over the last year, the government of Argentina has put up a number of roadblocks to moving the bear from his home at the Mendoza Zoo. 

But she said this weekend, veterinarians and biologists will examine the 28-year-old animal to see if he is fit enough to travel. 

"They have to look at his heart, a lot of things, so we are waiting for that," she said. "We really, really hope that this time that the government is not going to lie again."

She said there have been mixed messages from the Mendoza government, sometimes giving false hope to Winnipeg zoo officials that Arturo was coming, only to see that dashed. 

Arentsen said there has been resistance from some Mendoza government officials and some older zoo staff to send Arturo to Winnipeg, with them questioning why the animal should be moved when he is healthy and doing fine where he is. 

Even though Arentsen is encouraged the examination means Arturo could be a step closer to making the Assiniboine Park Zoo his home, she worries that the experts checking him out don't know enough about polar bears to make the right call. 

Winnipeg zoo officials not involved - yet

Laura Cabak, spokesperson for Assiniboine Park Zoo, said Winnipeg officials have had telephone conversations about bringing Arturo here, but they are not involved in the formal process of making that happen.

She said Mendoza zoo officials have to file an export permit with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency before the bear can be cleared to come to Canada.

Only at that point would Winnipeg zoo officials go to Mendoza.

Cabak said she's unsure whether Arturo's exam on Friday is part of that process.

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