Cambodia Bear Sanctuary Fact File

Location of the Cambodia Bear Sanctuary
The sanctuary is located approximately 40km south of Cambodia’s capital city Phnom Penh. The bear rescue project is within a larger wildlife rescue centre accommodating many of Cambodia's endangered species including tigers, Asian elephants and gibbons.

The capital, Phnom Penh, is about an hour away by car and is a great place to visit at weekends. It is an exciting city, growing fast and becoming more geared up to tourism. There is a lot to do and there are many bars and restaurants catering to different tastes.
Volunteer Accommodation
Volunteers live on the outskirts of a rural Cambodian village, roughly 10km away from the sanctuary. The volunteer house has twin bedrooms so volunteers may be sharing a room with another volunteer of the same gender.

Transport by car to and from the centre is provided on working days.

A cleaner, cook and security guard look after the house and prepare dinner but volunteers should be prepared to help with domestic duties. Laundry services are available for a small charge. Free internet is available at the volunteer house and is widely available in the capital city.
Getting to the project
The nearest airport to this project is Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Airport code PNH).

To help you find the best air fares Globalteer has formed a partnership with a division of The Flight Centre Group who will tailor make your travel arrangements for you at a competitive price.
You can contact them for a free, no obligation travel quote by calling 0844 560 9944 from within the UK, or if you are outside the UK you can call +44(0)203 056 1146. Make sure you mention Globalteer when you call and if you do purchase your travel through them, Globalteer will receive a small donation. However, don’t forget that it’s up to you to make sure your travel arrangements are right for you and your project.
Cambodia has four seasons.   

1. November to February, cool and dry.
2. March to May, hot and dry.
3. June to August, hot and wet.
4. September to October, cool and wet.

The hot season rarely reaches above 35C and the cool season may go as low as 20C. The monsoon rains follow a regular pattern of 1 to 3 hours of rain in the afternoon making them easy to plan around. Dry season can be dusty and in the wet season the countryside becomes spectacularly green.

You can read more about the climate in Cambodia and what to expect at different times of year here.

Local Expenses

The official currency is the Cambodian Riel but US dollars are accepted almost everywhere and are issued from most ATM’s.

Local transport
Tuk-tuk - it is possible to get just about everywhere in PP for less than 3 dollars, a short trip should be around 1 dollar.
Mototaxi (Motodop) - these are usually about half the price of a tuk-tuk but please note that helmets are not available and travel by motorbike may not be covered by travel insurance policies.
Taxi - costs depend on distance and when you travel but a day trip to Kampot approximately 3 hours is around 35 dollars (one way).

Meal at a market or street stall, around 1 dollar
Meal in a restaurant, anywhere from 3.5 dollars to 20 dollars

Volunteer Daily Schedule at the Sanctuary
Volunteers work Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm with weekends free. The first day will consist of an induction covering the background of the bear rescue project, the rules for volunteers, how the sanctuary is run, information on the different types of bears and a full tour of the site.
You will be trained and supervised by experienced keepers at the centre. After this you will work alongside fully trained local staff and the volunteer coordinator on daily activities which will include:

  • Preparing food for the bears, moving them inside and then scattering and hiding the food in their enclosure to provide an environment that is as close to their natural habitat as possible where they would need to forage for their food.
  • Enrichment programs, which include improvements to the existing enclosures to keep the bears challenged and entertained, creating small puzzles and challenges for the bears to complete to obtain treats.
  • Assisting the keepers in their daily tasks.
  • Cleaning the enclosures.
  • Repair and maintenance of the enclosures and indoor holding pens.
  • Maintenance of the centre and surrounding area.
You will work closely with local staff ensuring the bears are fed twice daily and cleaning the enclosures once the bears are in their holding pens.

A lot of work is done on enrichments, this is to make the lives of the bears as interesting and challenging as possible so they do not become bored and stressed. Your input is encouraged and any new ideas for enrichments you make will be considered. Enrichments include filling rubber tubes with treats for the bears to find and eat or making frozen fruit ice lollies and hiding them in the enclosure.

Other areas of work included the constant maintenance and improvements of the enclosures by building bathing pools and climbing apparatus. Some of the work does not directly involve the bears but greatly improves the standard of their lives. You will work closely with the bears but there is a strict no physical contact policy as they are still large wild animals and there is always the potential for serious injury.

You will be advised in your induction as to the specific rules regarding health and safety not only to protect yourself but also the welfare of the bears. The work can be tough and dirty especially in a tropical climate, but you have a unique experience to be part of a young but rapidly expanding project that is crucially important in preserving Cambodian wildlife and educating future generations on the importance of conservation.
Extra Activities
Whilst you are volunteering you will be able to take advantage of the fact you are working in Cambodia’s premier zoological conservation park. Here you can see the widest range of native animals available in Cambodia, including some endangered species that are virtually impossible to see in the wild. The animals are kept in large enclosures that are as close to their natural habitat as possible.

A number of other conservation and breeding projects are ongoing and you will have the opportunity to see and learn about native animal protection and conservation efforts in Cambodia.
Cambodia's capital is firmly back on the map and is growing at an astonishing rate to deal with ever increasing numbers of foreign visitors. Days of can be spent sitting on the riverside watching the bustle of daily life go by, visiting the huge number of markets for bargains, visiting the local water park when things get too hot or simply strolling the boulevards hunting down the best street food.

You are perfectly placed for weekend getaways to most destinations in Cambodia including the world famous temples of Angkor Wat or the beach resort of Sihanoukville.

A popular option for visitors are countryside excursions by 4x4 or trail bike, you can visit remote areas off the tourist trail and experience the beautifully diverse scenery of the Cambodian countryside as well as interacting with local people not accustomed to meeting tourists.
About Cambodia
Country name: Conventional long form: Kingdom of Cambodia. Conventional short form: Cambodia. Local short form: Kampuchea
Area: Total: 181,040 sq km 
Terrain: Mostly low, flat plains; mountains in southwest and north
Population: 13.5 million 
Age structure: 0-14 years: 37.3%, 15-64 years: 59.7%, 65 years and over: 3.1%
Life expectancy at birth: Total population: 58.87 years male: 55.92 years female: 61.96 years
Ethnic groups: Khmer 90%, Vietnamese 5%, Chinese 1%, other 4%
Religions: Theravada Buddhist 95%, other 5%
Literacy: Definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 69.4% male: 80.8% female: 59.3% (2002)
Capital: Phnom Penh
Languages: Khmer (official) 95%, French, English
Government type: Stable multiparty democracy under a constitutional monarchy established in September 1993
International airports: Phnom Penh & Siem Reap
Currency : Riel    (US$1 ~ 4000 Riel) - US$ are used for most transactions with Riel used as small change.
The predominant religion in Cambodia is Buddhism. Buddhism is a rather flexible religion which teaches that nothing is eternal and everything in the world is subject to change, only aging, sickness and death are certain and unavoidable. Buddhism has no unique creed, no single authority, no single sacred book. It focuses on the potential of the individual to obtain enlightenment or "nirvana".

Buddhism was founded from the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, born in 566BC on the Indian - Nepalese border. He was from a privileged and wealthy family but became disillusioned with his life and left home to embark upon a life of wandering on a spiritual quest. As he sat meditating under a tree he had a profound experience called Bodhi or "awakening". He had a deep understanding of the nature of suffering, its cause and a way of stopping it. The Lord Buddha then devoted his life to teaching the way to cease suffering. By his death at the age of 80 he had a considerable following and a well organised community.

The eightfold path teaches the moral principles that all Buddhist should practice. Following this path helps a person realise that greed and selfishness cause all earthly suffering, with this understanding one's own suffering may end. Buddhism is a very peaceful religion that teaches morality, meditation and wisdom.

Why not vist the Cambodia bear sanctuary gallery for more pictures of the project.
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