Volunteer Cambodia Bear Sanctuary
The Volunteer Bear Rescue Sanctuary is located approximately one hour south of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. The sanctuary cares for over 100 rescued bears.
The sanctuary is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of bears poached for bear bile farms, traditional medicines, exploited as pets, used for profit within the tourist industry or rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.
Globalteer is UK registered charity providing volunteer placements abroad. We work with various wildlife conservation and rescue centres in Asia.
Twenty one forested enclosures have been built over seven hectares to house a mixture of Sun bears and Asiatic black bears of different ages and personalities.
All of the enclosures are extensively furnished with pools, rocks, hammocks, climbing frames, lush native vegetation and a variety of enrichment toys to ensure that the bears are kept happy and healthy at all times.
Many of the bears cannot be reintroduced to the wild as they have suffered serious physical abuse or have been raised as pets. The rescue project aims to give these bears the best possible quality of life in captivity by providing large areas that match the environment in which they would live in the wild.
To read more about the sanctuary, visit our Volunteer Cambodia Bear Project Information page.
Duration: 1 to 8 weeks
Hours: 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday
Activities: Feeding the bears, providing enrichments, maintaining and cleaning enclosures
Accommodation: Shared volunteer house
Requirements: Aged 21+
Donation: From £475 / US$710
Location and Accommodation at the Bear SanctuaryThe sanctuary is located approximately 40km (1 hour by car) south of Cambodia’s capital city Phnom Penh. The bear rescue project is located within a larger wildlife rescue centre accommodating many of Cambodia's endangered species including tigers, Asian elephants and gibbons.
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.
A cleaner, cook and security guard look after the house and prepare dinner but volunteer's 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.
Transport by car to and from the centre is provided on working days.
The capital city of Cambodia is about an hour away and 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.
To find out more about volunteering with bears in Cambodia, visit our Volunteering in Cambodia Fact File
Volunteer Daily Schedule at the SanctuaryVolunteers 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 improve 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.
Got any questions about volunteering with bears in Cambodia? Try our Frequently Asked Questions about the Bear Sanctuary
Meet the Bears at the Sanctuary
Some of the Rescued Bears StoriesMokiup - adult male sun bear
Mokiup arrived at the sanctuary in terrible condition. He had been kept as an exotic pet in very poor conditions and it was feared he would not survive. His owners had put an enormous chain around his neck and starved him from a very young age.
His growth is now permanently stunted as a result but he has recovered well and lives a happy life at the sanctuary. Mokiup is a very friendly bear and loves to play.
Sandie - Asiatic black bear
Sandie arrived at the rescue centre in July 2004 when she was approximately 2 years old. She came from Kirirom National Park and was rescued from a snare. Unfortunately her front left paw was very damaged from the snare and had to be amputated once she arrived at the centre.
Sandie lives with another 8 Asiatic black bears and is a healthy 106kg in weight. Sandie’s amputation certainly doesn’t hold her back from doing bear like activities, such as looking for food, exploring the rocky outcrops in her enclosure, playing with enrichment toys or lazing in a hammock.
Sandie’s favourite place to sleep is on one of the many hammocks in her enclosures under the shade of the climbing platforms. Sandie enjoys spending time on her own and loves her keeper Mr Penh, and will always come over to him when he calls her name.
Extra ActivitiesWhilst 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.
The required donation for the project is stated in UK £pounds and US $dollars.
The donation includes:
- Airport pick up from Phnom Penh international airport.
- Accommodation in the volunteer house.
- Daily breakfast and evening meal from Sunday to Friday.
- Daily transport by car to the sanctuary.
- Induction and training.
- Full project support from the volunteer coordinator.
- Comprehensive information brochure.
- Assistance and advice for travelling to Cambodia.
The donation does not include the cost of flights or visas although information can be provided on request.
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Application process & requirements
The minimum age for volunteers is 21 years old. No previous experience or qualifications are necessary but we do require volunteers to be respectful and open minded to the cultural differences they will encounter in Cambodia.
Volunteers must be reasonably fit as the work can be demanding in the tropical heat. You must be able to speak English. Volunteers must have a similar ideology to the mission of the bear sanctuary, wildlife trainers and those who exploit wildlife for the benefit of people are not suitable for this project.
- Click on the link below to fill out an application form.
- Add "@globalteer.org" to your E-mail safe list to ensure that you receive a response.
- Your application will be reviewed and if accepted you will be notified via E-mail within one week.
- Pay your deposit to secure your placement within one week of acceptance.
- Research your destination, book your flight, inoculations and ask us any questions you may have.
- Full amount is to be paid 10 weeks before the start of your volunteer placement.
- A comprehensive information folder will be sent to you with all information including a packing list, Cambodia cultural differences, Buddhist Monk etiquette, useful Khmer language phrases, bear sanctuary rules, useful phone contacts and full project information.