Bears rescued from cruel bile farms have had a special home built for them in Tam Dao National Park in the northern province of Vinh Phuc.

The house will be officially opened on May 14 after seven months in construction.

Called the Double Bear House, it has 12 roomy dens in two rows that open out to two 2,500 sq.m semi-natural enclosures on either side, one for the moon bears and the other for the smaller sun bears.

The enclosures are designed to encourage the bears’ natural behaviour with rock pools, trees and climbing frames.

The progress at the sanctuary showed what could be achieved when NGOs and the Government worked together, said Jill Robinson, founder and CEO of Animals Asia Foundation.

Animals Asia developed the 12ha sanctuary in Chat Dau Valley in the stunning Tam Dao National Park, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Forest Protection Department.

The 4 million USD Moon Bear Rescue Centre will eventually house 200 bears that have suffered for years at the hands of bile farmers.

Phase one of the sanctuary, which includes a quarantine block and surgical facilities, can hold up to 100 bears in dens and large cages. It opened last year with investment capital of 600,000 USD from the foundation.

Phase two, which is being developed, will include more Double Bear Houses, a bear-food kitchen, visitor centre and graveyard.

As more bears arrive and the rescue centre grew, Robinson said, it would become the focus of the foundation’s campaign to end bear farming. Eventually, the sanctuary would have an education centre, herb garden, visitor viewing area and staff accommodation.

Nearly all the rescued bears would be missing a limb, because they were snared in the wild in barbaric leg-hold traps.

Most of the bears’ gall bladders – badly damaged from the years of torture on bile farms – would have to be surgically removed.

Foundation operations manager Robert Mathieson said environment protection was an important element at the new sanctuary, which is 1.2 km from the park’s administration office.

It is not connected to electricity, water or sewerage.

“Our initial treatment gets the river water to a level where bears can drink it and humans can wash in it,” Mathieson said.

Instead of simply using up water resources and discarding the waste, polluted water from the river would be cleaned and recycled.

All the bear and human sewage would be treated by eco-friendly waste water treatment system without using chemicals, he said.

“This gets the water to a level good enough to use in the bear’s swimming pools.”

With the completion of the Double Bear House, foundation Vietnam director Tuan Bendixsen said it was hoped school groups would visit the sanctuary as education was a major part of the campaign to end bear farming.

The opening ceremony will be attended by senior Government members and foreign embassy officials.

It will include a special presentation by the foundation’s recently appointed Moon Bear Rescue Ambassador, actress Maggie Q./.