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Cosmo&Nanu

A new house for polar bears in Schönbrunn

There is currently only a model for the new "polar bear world": there will be a landscape similar to nature, deep diving pools and an area for mothers and their cubs.

The so-called "Franz Josef Land" is supposed to open in May 2014. Outside, the facility will be almost three times as big as the old one (1,700 squaremetres).

"We offer the animals different kinds of soil such as meadow, rock and stones, but also streams and waterfalls", said the director of the zoo Dagmar Schratter. "Different levels of pools will be made in order to attract bears to swim and dive. Visitors will be able to observe them under water."

The facilities can be separated so that mother and cub will have their own large area and the depth of the water can be adapted to the development of the cub.

Building works are going according to plan: there are technical rooms with filter machines for water purification, the shell of the food kitchen and interior rooms to which polar bears can retreat.

The next step will be a tunnel for visitors that will guide them to the "polardome". This centre will inform them about habitats and animals from the Arctic and Antarcic. Visitors will also be able to learn about climate change and sustainability.

The Association of Friends of the zoo and Polar Bears International have a joint project for the protection of species that will be presented in the "polardome". Polar bears have become a symbol for species that have become endangered through climate change.

The zoo is looking for donations and sponsors. Further information can be found under http://franz-josef-land.zoovienna.at/.

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