Posts Tagged ‘Phnom Tamao Wildlife Center’

Giving Wildlife A Helping Hand

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Wildlife Alliance are offering a great opportunity for animal lovers to help secure a happy and healthy future for rescued animals at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC), just outside Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

Chhouk, the Elephant with a prosthetic foot

Chhouk, the Elephant with a prosthetic foot

Animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade are brought to Phnom Tamao, primarily to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild. In many cases this is possible. Unfortunately some animals cannot be released and are given a permanent home at the Center. Take for example Chhouk, a young male Asian Elephant, found as a baby, wandering alone in the forest in northeastern Cambodia. He had lost a foot to a poachers’ snare, was gravely ill from an infection in his wound, and was severely under-nourished. After caring for him for two weeks in the forest and gaining his trust, WA transported him to PTWRC and were able to heal his wounds. Unfortunately, his foot was gone for good, so they partnered with the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics to provide him with a prosthesis, which has changed his life completely. He can now walk normally and has avoided any serious skeletal deformities. He is the first elephant in Cambodia to receive a prosthesis and is a celebrated rescue success story. Or there’s the lively Pursat, the Hairy-Nosed Otter. Pursat was rescued from the province of Pursat on Tonle Sap Lake. He is likely the only hairy-nosed otter in captivity anywhere in the world. Extremely sensitive to stress and pollution, this species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. We bring unpolluted water from Phnom Penh three times a week, and feed Pursat only live fish in an effort to reduce the chance of toxins entering his system. Pursat is a playful and energetic otter, and is doing really well in his new secluded enclosure.

To support animals like these, and others such as Araeng – the Indochinese Tiger or Bangroul – the Sunda Pangolin, Wildlife Alliance have started a Sponsor An Animal program. There are two levels of sponsorship available: basic and premium. The basic level is $5 per month and the premium level is $20 per month. They seek a 12-month minimum commitment, with each sponsor receiving a certificate, photograph, newsletter and factsheet. We think this is a great way for animal lovers to contribute to the fantastic work that Wildlife Alliance are committed to doing in Cambodia. And of course, you can come and see the animals for yourself, with a Wildlife Experience behind-the-scenes tour of Phnom Tamao with the WA team. You can find out more information on sponsoring an animal at

Close up with Cambodia’s vulnerable wildlife

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Join us and Wildlife Alliance for a close up look at Cambodia’s endangered wildlife.

Trunk-painting with Lucky the elephant

Trunk-painting with Lucky the elephant

One of many highlights from my recent tour of the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center was having my t-shirt painted by Lucky, a large female elephant, whilst I wore it. Handed paint-brushes dipped in different colours by her trainer, Lucky will swing her trunk and you end up with a unique piece of trunk-painted art to keep as a souvenir of your visit. Lucky is one of over 1,200 animals rescued by the Wildlife Alliance team that works with the forestry authorities to oversee the recovery and rehabilitation, and in some cases, a release back into specially-protected wilderness areas. There are five elephants, three females who you can walk with through the park – you can also take a bath with Lucky if you so wish – and two males, one of which is a youngster who has a prosthetic foot. Chhouk was caught in a snare and lost his foot but with loving care and attention, he’s got used to his new shoe and you get to see it being cleaned and changed and how his trainers teach him with reward-based instructions, as part of Wildlife Alliance’s new behind-the-scenes tour.

Seven beautiful tigers were the next port of call, up close and I mean literally just a matter of inches away, as they spend time in their own cages, where they come for food and rest from the hot sun. The Free The Bears organization have done great work in saving over 100 sun bears and have their own enclosures, with recently-finished viewing platforms, where three young adult bears hammed it up for the audience. I visited a few other animals such as the vulnerable binturong, aka bearcat, before heading into the off-limits nursery area to come face to face with a gorgeous baby leopard cat, who I fell in love with, and the playful young macaques, who were adorable. If you love animals, then you will enjoy this tour and knowing that your donation goes directly to helping Wildlife Alliance protect endangered and trafficked wildlife.

Changing Chhouk's false shoe

Changing Chhouk’s false shoe

Everyone loves the baby leopard cat

Everyone loves the baby leopard cat

Inside Phnom Tamao

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Take a look inside Phnom Tamao with Wildlife Alliance Director Nick Marx.

Nick Marx is the man behind Wildlife Alliance’s Care for Rescued Wildlife Program at Phnom Tamao Rescue Center. In the course of his decade of work in Cambodia, Nick has rescued more than 45,000 live animals from poachers and traders, and cares for a vast array of rescued wildlife – from elephants and tigers to gibbons, sun bears, and endangered tropical birds. He talks about his personal commitment to save these animals, and the impact that he’s seen over the course of his work. For a behind-the-scenes insight into the work of the Wildlife Alliance team, join Hanuman’s full-day Wildlife Experience at Phnom Tamao for a close encounter with some of Cambodia’s rarest wildlife.

Come and Meet Chhouk

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

One of the highlights of our brand new Phnom Tamao Unique Wildlife Experience that provides a behind-the-scenes insight into the work of the Wildlife Alliance team at their wildlife rescue center, is the chance to meet Chhouk, the celebrity elephant with the prosthetic foot. So what’s Chhouk’s story?

Chhouk, the celebrity elephant with a prosthetic foot

Chhouk, the celebrity elephant with a prosthetic foot

In April 2007, a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) elephant patrol in the Srepok Wilderness Area in remote Northeastern Cambodia came across a young male elephant, seriously emaciated and in obvious pain due to a severe foot injury. No more than a year old, the elephant was alone and having trouble moving around and feeding himself because the bottom portion of his right front leg had been lost, almost surely to a poacher’s snare, and was dangerously swollen and infected. Concerned about the seriousness of the injury and the level of care the elephant would require, WWF and the Cambodian Forestry Administration reached out to Wildlife Alliance and Nick Marx for assessment and assistance.

Nick, Forestry Administration veterinarian Nhim Thy, and two members of the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team left immediately to make the cross-country trip to Mondulkiri province to assist with this emergent situation. Upon arrival, it was apparent the situation was even worse than advertised. Aggressive and nervous, the elephant was not eating the food that was being supplied to him. After spending time with the elephant, hand feeding him and calming him down, Wildlife Alliance administered immediate treatment to his foot and assessed the extent of the damage. Ultimately, Wildlife Alliance staff spent two weeks in the jungle gaining the elephant’s trust, treating his injuries and malnutrition, and assessing his long-term prospects. The staff recognized that the elephant would never be able to survive on his own in the wild and so arranged for Chhouk (“Lotus Flower”), as he came to be called, to be transported to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) where Wildlife Alliance veterinarians and animal husbandry specialists could attend to his special needs.

Chhouk and the team set out on an arduous 26-hour journey through dense forest, on long roads, and through the disorienting experience of traffic in Phnom Penh, on their way to PTWRC. His personal keepers, Mr. Tam and Mr. Sarim, were waiting for him at an enclosure created especially for his needs. It was not immediately certain that Chhouk would survive his injury. With dedicated veterinary care, Wildlife Alliance staff was able to see to the healing of his leg wound and eradication of his infections. He was housed alongside the other four rescued Asian elephants at PTWRC and formed a special bond with Lucky, an older female elephant, who took the youngster under her wing. However, Chhouk’s hardships were not over.

The damage caused by his missing foot was threatening his spine and hips. The stress on elephants’ legs is already great and with Chhouk off balance, he was at risk of developing bone deformities. Wildlife Alliance animal care specialists determined that the only way to address his mobility and pain issues would be to fit him with a prosthetic foot. A partnership was formed with the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics, with financial support from the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, to build Chhouk a prosthesis, the first of its kind in Cambodia. Immediately after being fitted with the foot, Chhouk’s issues improved rapidly. He is now on his fifth foot as he continues to grow and require new prostheses to match his size and boundless energy.

Chhouk’s story and survival against all odds have made him a global ambassador for Asian elephant conservation and the plight of elephants in Cambodia specifically. He has been featured on television programmes all over the globe, as well as innumerable international print media sources. He is much loved in Cambodia, where he is a top attraction for PTWRC’s more than 200,000 visitors each year. As he’s got older, Chhouk has become less predictable and as such, to ensure the safety of his keepers, a steel fence always separates him from his handlers. He has been trained using a reward based system and the worst that can happen is if Chhouk does not do what is required, he does not receive his reward, a banana or an apple. He’s a smart guy who loves his food and has quickly learnt that compliance benefits all. This includes removing his prosthetic foot twice each day. Come and meet Chhouk for yourself as part of Hanuman’s Phnom Tamao Wildlife Experience.


Wildlife in Cambodia – up close and personal

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Hanuman’s brand new Wildlife Experience in Cambodia, unlike any other in the Indochina region.

Bathing with an elephant

Bathing with an elephant

Phnom Tamao Unique Wildlife Experience

This unique experience provides an incredible insight into the work of the Wildlife Alliance team who protect Cambodia’s wildlife from the threats of poaching, trafficking and cruelty. This full-day adventure offers a close encounter with some of Cambodia’s rarest wildlife and all proceeds from the trip go towards assisting Wildlife Alliance and their Forestry Department colleagues in their work protecting Cambodia’s natural treasures, their fight against the illegal wildlife trade and care for the animals they rescue. This is unlike any other wildlife experience on offer in the region, as it takes the visitor up close to these wonderful animals in the company of conservation experts.

Departing from Phnom Penh, the journey to Phnom Tamao includes a stop at a local market to buy some fruit to feed the elephants and other animals on arrival. Once at the Rescue Centre, visitors will join the elephants for a walk in the forest and feed them some fruit snacks. They will then visit the elephant enclosure to learn more about the reward-based training given to the elephants to improve the manner in which they are cared for. Guests will also meet a rescued elephant who lost his foot to a snare. He now has a prosthetic limb. It is also possible to have your very own elephant painting t-shirt, ‘trunk-painted’ while you wear it.

Guests then continue to the tiger enclosures to meet the big cats personally and watch them playing with enrichment items. Other wildlife in this area includes the incredible binturong or bearcat, one of the lesser known animals in Cambodia. Later there is the chance to visit the rehabilitation section of the rescue centre which is not open to the general public. Here there is the opportunity to help feed one of the young residents of the centre such as a baby jackal or leopard cat or play with the many mischievous baby macaques. A picnic lunch is then enjoyed in a private area close to the compound of the hairy-nosed otter, an animal so difficult to care for he is probably the only one currently in captivity anywhere in the world.

In the afternoon, there is the chance to explore the vast water bird aviary, home to some of Cambodia’s rare avian life and to walk around the nearby Lakeside area where sambar deer roam. There are also large water birds resident here, including the lesser adjutant stork, listed by IUCN as Vulnerable. These birds are breeding freely in the forest surrounding the Rescue Centre.

This really is a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors that have a passion for wildlife and its conservation. It might get dirty for those that don’t mind mucking in, particularly with the elephants or baby macaques, but for those that want to learn more about wildlife and the hard work that goes into its protection, there is no better experience in the region. And all proceeds go towards the conservation and protection of Cambodia’s threatened wildlife. By supporting this unique experience, you are contributing to sustainable conservation in Cambodia. Contact Hanuman for more details including pricing of this brand new joint venture with Wildlife Alliance, who kindly supplied the photographs.

Trunk painting t-shirts

Trunk painting t-shirts

Feeding Sambar deer

Feeding Sambar deer

The Bear Necessities

Monday, November 28th, 2011

It's a tough life being a Sun bear

Up close and personal with the under threat Sun bears of Cambodia

Sun bears and Asiatic Black bears are under serious threat in Cambodia. So the Free The Bears Fund have set up their own Bear Keeper for a Day programme to bring in much needed revenue to contribute to their mission to provide a safe haven for rescued bears.

The Phnom Tamao Wildlife Center, where the Free The Bears project is home to more than 120 rescued bears, is the world’s biggest sanctuary for Sun bears. You really have to see it to appreciate it. I visited the center last week to get the run down on the Bear Keeper project with the organizer, Pesei, showing me around and explaining how participants are invited to prepare enrichment toys for the bears, filled with food, to help brighten up their day and to give the bears activities that encourage them to use their natural talents. Later in the day, you get to go inside the forest enclosures to hide the food toys and then witness as they are eagerly sought out and enjoyed by the bears.

Going behind the scenes with Pesei and meeting the bear keepers, vet and volunteers was an eye-opener as to exactly how much work is involved in looking after these animals every day. There are seven ‘houses’ to maintain over a vast area of land and it’s a tough job. As a newbie Bear Keeper, you don’t get to have direct contact with the bears, that’s the domain of the real bear keepers, but you get privileged access to areas that visitors are not allowed to see and watching the three small bear cubs at play – or squabbling as it turned out – was one of those “aren’t they lovely” moments everyone would enjoy, but few get the chance to see. The project is enabling the bears to live a happy and healthy life in their forested sanctuary and it works a treat. Top marks to the staff and volunteers who make Free The Bears such a success story.  We also took time to visit a few of the other animal enclosures, getting the low-down on each of animals we saw, and gaining access to more behind-the-scenes sections of the zoo, including the tiger house, where I was literally inches away from three gorgeous tigers eating their food and relaxing, and therefore, fortunately, paying no attention to me. It was a great experience, and between Free The Bears, Wildlife Alliance and the forestry authorities, who all co-manage the Wildlife Center, all of the animals I saw looked well-fed and cared for, healthy and in good spirits. I was suitably impressed.

Ask Hanuman for more information about the Bear Keeper for a Day programme at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Center, located some 40kms southwest of Phnom Penh.