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Polar bear enclosure opens

The long-awaited polar bear enclosure officially opens today in Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo.

The new residents of the Franz Josef Land enclosure, which measures at 1700-square-feet, are polar bears Ranzo and Lynn, a male and a female who have come from zoos in Finland and Netherlands.

They were moved in a few weeks ago but now they have got used to their new home, the zoo has officially opened the enclosure to ready for public viewing starting tomorrow. One of the new features of Franz Josef Land are two pools, one with salt water and the other fresh water, with a large glass window where visitors can watch the polar bears dive for fish left at the bottom of the basin.

"Lynn was described to us by her previous carer as a water rat and she romps around almost all the time in the pool," said the zoo director Dagmar Schratter, who said the two new mates were getting on well.

"From the first sniff on, the two have understood each other well. The two young bears are certainly great playmates," he said.

The new polar bear enclosure is three times the size of the previous one and the Zoo hopes to have several young bears grow up in Vienna with the hope that they can then later be swapped with other zoos as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

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