A retirement home for bears rescued from horrific conditions is to open in an Alpine valley.


The centre named Baerenland (Bear Land) will be populated by bears saved from circuses and street performers across Europe.


Many will have endured years of cruelty and mental abuse before their rescue by the Swiss bears’ home.


International animal charity Vier Pfoten (Four Paws) has teamed up with the Swiss Tourist Authority to create the 2.8 hectare (7 acre) park.


Set beside the Arosa ski resort in the eastern canton of Graubuenden, visitor access will be strictly controlled to avoid disturbing the animals.


A visitors' platform behind glass will allow tourists to watch the bears and a cable car will run above them.


Around the perimeter, a 2.9 meter (10 feet) electrified fence is designed to keep intruders out as much as it is to keep the bears in.


Elsewhere the park will include a bear-themed playground and mini golf.


Under the visitors' platform will be bear dens, a veterinary medical station and a quarantine area, say planners.


Arosa Tourism director Pasca Jenny, 43, said there would also be out-of-season summer breaks for bear enthusiasts to spend longer studying at the centre.


She said: "We want to make people aware of the bears and their situation.


"Therefore there will also be a learning excursion to the Arosa holiday resort cottages."


Animal welfare expert Hans Schmidt, 60, one of the project leaders, said they would be housing only elderly bears that might normally encounter each other in the wild.


Cubs or younger bears would only be allowed in only as an emergency measure.


Mr Schmidt, head of animal care at Zurich Zoo, added: "Breeding is not planned here.


"Baerenland will be more of a retirement home for abused bears."

CEN / Arosa
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Author: Iva Buchkovska

Iva Buchkovska
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