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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
New home cure for bear relationship
Ootec the male polar bear
Ootec puts Spunky on edge
Two polar bears fly from Ireland to Hungary on Tuesday in search of a more spacious enclosure to relieve the stress of living together.

Ootec and Spunky have been getting on each others' nerves, and it is hoped their new home will give them more personal space.

An animal behaviourist called in by Dublin Zoo to examine the bears' relationship concluded that Ootec, the male, was domineering - and that Spunky, the female, needed somewhere to retreat to.

Dublin was unable to provide the new accommodation.

The expert said Spunky was under continuous stress whenever she was near Ootec.

"The female is continuously on guard. She continuously watches him and never relaxes," said zoo director Leo Oosterweghel.

Agitated pacing

No relaxation: The stress has taken its toll on Spunky
It was her constant, agitated pacing of the bears' enclosure that prompted the zoo to commission of the behaviourist's study.

The search for a suitable new enclosure, with two smaller separate sections, led to Sosto Zoo, near Nyiregyhaza, in eastern Hungary.

"The enclosure in Hungary will allow each polar bear to spend time by themselves if they choose, and yet will still allow them to come together when and if they choose," said Mr Oosterweghel.

Ootec and Spunky were found as cubs with a group of bears raiding a rubbish tip for food near the Canadian town of Churchill, on the shore of Hudson Bay.

They were first taken to Winnipeg Zoo, and transferred to Dublin in the early 1980s.

They are presumed to be brother and sister.

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