Want to have a fun day trip from Phnom Penh and help a good cause? Then learning how to care for rescued bears at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre is what you need.


Free the Bears originally started back in Australia in 1993 when Mrs Mary Hutton watched a TV programme on the suffering of Asiatic Black Bears being held captive in order to extract bile to meet the demand for traditional Asian medicine. From humble beginnings collecting protest signatures, Mary’s campaign has evolved into a series of projects through South East Asia and India in order to protect bears. Free the Bears opened Cambodia’s first dedicated wildlife hospital at Phnom Tamao in 2006 and today take care of 130 Sun Bears and Asiatic Black Bears. The centre is located about 1½ hours from Phnom Penh.

Being a bear keeper does not involve playing with the bears – after all they are wild animals! However a visitor can help by working alongside the full-time keepers, preparing food and special treats to keep the bears happy, hiding enrichment toys in their enclosures and learning about the work that Free the Bears does. Needless to say taking care of so many animals requires a lot of money and by volunteering you are supporting a good cause as 100% of the donation goes directly to the bear sanctuary.


A visit to Phnom Tamao can also combine with a visit to picturesque Tonle Bati temple.

For anyone resident in Phnom Penh then please support Free the Bears fund-raising evening “Beers 4 Bears” at The Mansion @ FCC Phnom Penh this Saturday evening.


(photos courtesy of Free the Bears/Peter Yuen)