Free The Bears Wildlife Center in Phnom Tmao, Cambodia - travel journal

Group at the centre
Responsible Travel has partnered with Friends International in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to support a trip to the Wildlife Rescue Center, Free the Bears Sanctuary. Young people from vulnerable backgrounds donít usually have the opportunity to visit wildlife centres, so this trip gave young people a chance to learn about their countryís wildlife and understand their habitat.

Free the Bears is a non-profit rescue centre that focuses on the protection and rehabilitation of Moon bears (Ursus thibetanus), Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) and Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) across Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. To protect the species the centre employs a wide range of strategies that include improving environmental education, providing sustainable livelihoods, helping to increase law enforcement and researching the protection of wild bear populations.

Date: Friday, 27th October 2017: Mith Samlanh are an organisation that supports children and youth from marginalised backgrounds. Today they organised a trip for a group of 20 (4 female) children and youth, to the Wildlife Center Free the Bears educational program. The children and youth were aged between 10 and 24 years old, and came from different marginalised communities in Phnom Penh. They attend vocational training courses and remedial education at Mith Samlanh.


8am - 8:30am Breakfast: Before heading to the Wildlife Center all the youth and children had breakfast at Mith Samlanh. At 8:30am the children and youth were picked up at Mith Samlanh to head off to the Wildlife Center.

10:35am - 11:00pm: The group was welcomed by the Free the Bears staff and given a short presentation. The children and youth were then asked to fill in a questionnaire about the history of the bears and their importance in the wild.

Filling in a questionnaire
Listening to staff talk about the bears
11:00am - 12:00am: The children and youth were taken on a guided tour around the centre to see different species of bears (Sun bears and Moon bears) and other rescued animals.

12:00pm - 12:30pm: lunch time.

12:30pm- 2:30pm: Games and more Q&A time for the children and youth organised by the centre.

2:30pm: Return to MS.

Drawing quiz
Children with microphone
Quotes from the day
"I learned so much about bears and other animals, how they catch food and how important they are for our planet."

"I was impressed with the importance the trees have in the bears life. I wasn't aware that the trees are their home and shelter."
Impact: The majority of these children and youth had never been to the Wildlife Centre before and never had the opportunity to see wild animals. For many of them, it was their first ever trip outside Phnom Penh. The trip was very meaningful for all of them; they were all very happy to see and learn about the animals and be immersed in the nature. They also appreciated the environment and fresh air, which you don't really find in the city, where very limited parks and green spaces exist.

About our partner organisation: Friends International is an award-winning social enterprise founded in 1994 that saves lives and builds futures of the most marginalized children, youth, families and communities in Southeast Asia and around the world. It works to create a future where all children are safe from all forms of abuse, and become functional, productive citizens who contribute to a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world. Friends works in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Thailand, and with 45 partners around the world, to provide comprehensive services to marginalized urban children, youth and their families. Since its inception, Friends has supported the education, well-being, and sustainable reintegration of more than 300,000 vulnerable children, youth and their families.

Mith Samlanh was established in 1994 as Friends first program based in Phnom Penh Cambodia. Since its inception, the program has supported the education, well-being, and sustainable social reintegration of more than 200,000 marginalised children, youth, and their caregivers. It does this through a holistic range of inclusive programming that impacts about 15,000 beneficiaries each year.

Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter
Convert currencies