Thursday, November 24, 2011
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Center was to get the gen on their Bear Keeper for a Day project. It's a great program and Pesei filled me in on all the details including making enrichment toys, filled with food, to help brighten up their day and to give the bears activities that encourage them to use their natural talents. Going behind the scenes with the bear keepers, vet and volunteers was an eye-opener as to exactly how much work is involved in looking after more than 120 bears every day. There are seven 'houses' to maintain over a vast area of land and it's a tough job. 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 allowing the bears, both Sun bears and Asiatic Black bears, to live a happy and healthy life in their forested sanctuary and it works a treat. Top marks to Matt, Nev, Pesei and the rest of their staff and volunteers who make Free The Bears such a success story. Pesei also took time to show me around a few of the other animal enclosures, passing on interesting tips about 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 paying no attention to me. Up close the tigers are perhaps my favorite. I could've stayed there for hours. It was a great experience, and between Free The Bears, Wildlife Alliance and the forestry authorities, all of the animals I saw looked well-fed and cared for, healthy and in good spirits. I was suitably impressed. I enjoyed lunch with the volunteers and staff and later in the day, called into the Angkorian temple at Tonle Bati for my temple fix. Neat and tidy as always, the flower girls at the site were on good form though the old ladies with their incense sticks were a mite too persistent, probably because it was a slow day at the temple of Ta Prohm. I was the only visitor.
The otters were as playful as ever, splashing in and out of their water poolThis lion-tailed macaque looked sad because he had a wound on his leg which he showed us