If you are in Phnom Pehn, go to this rescue center and do the bear keeper for a day program with Free the Bears!
Free the Bears is a really remarkable organization that is dedicated to protecting bears from around the world, though they work mostly in India and Southeast Asia. Bears are tormented as pets, tortured and maimed for body parts to use in food and products for traditional "medicinal" use, and smuggled in this part of the world. It is a sad reality, but Free the Bears has done some really amazing things and made a lot of great progress. The story of their organization is inspiring as well, it started with one very brave woman simply asking, "What can I do to solve this problem?"
Picked up from Phnom Pehn, you get to go through a "daily routine" of a Sun Bear keeper, they have lots of them at the park, rescued from smugglers, hunters, and as pets.
It was really amazing, you get real close to the bears, enough to see their own unique personalities come through! They do really great work here, and many bears were in terrible conditions before they came here, some are blind and have missing limbs from traps.
You get to see all of the care and love that goes into managing these beautiful creatures. In addition you get to see moon bears, lions, tigers, leopards, monkeys, and many other species of rescued animals at the rescue center.
The staff, both foreign and Cambodian, are really wonderful, and you can tell these people really care about the animals and the vision of the rescue center. They are dedicated to sustainability, they are carbon neutral and use mostly solar power. In addition, they employ mostly local Cambodians and provide ecologically sound community-based conservation.
I have been to many countries all over the world, and seen quite a lot, but this was a really great, unique, and memorable experience. Life changing!
Go! Go! Go! :)
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