Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is a dusty two-hour ride from the capital but a fun day trip when you want to get out of the city.
I originally visited Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center with Becks the first time we came to Cambodia. At that time, the road from the main highway wasn’t paved so tuktuks kicked up a lot of dust. The rumbling of the tuktuk drew local villagers to the road to beg. They followed our slow moving tuktuk with hands outstretched. It was like being in a zombie movie with harmless, sad zombies.
A couple of weeks ago my friend Mara and I ventured out to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. I’d forgotten how long it takes. I knew it was a long ride so suggested leaving at 7:30 AM to get there early before the heat. They’ve paved the road from the main highway so tuktuks move along too quickly for the zombie apocalypse. The villagers have now built palm shelters where they wait for handouts. I guess business must be good because the elderly and children sit there all day.
As the name suggests, Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is a rescue facility. Many of the animals are disabled and could not survive in the wild. This blind lemur has been taking handouts since 2011.
In addition to injured animals, the facility takes in animals rescued from private zoos. There are some non-indigenous species (like lions).
Cambodians know this as Phnom Tamao Zoo so keep this alternate name in mind when you book your tuktuk or tour. Our tuktuk was $30 for the day.
Entrance costs $5 per person for foreigners and $1 for Cambodians. We didn’t see tour guides at the entrance so just had our tuktuk drive us to the main exhibit areas. It’s pretty walkable but expansive so we walked around an area and then drove to another one.
Plenty of vendors sell “animal feed” (mainly sugar cane, sweet potatoes and bananas) and you can slip things through the cages. If you buy food, be on the lookout for aggressive monkeys. They ones outside the cages will go for the food. The ones inside the cages may grab you if you’re too close.
In 2011, we hired a tour guide on site who took us inside enclosures with the animals. We also bought food so Becks could feed the animals. You can still get behind the scenes tours but they’re much more expensive now. The “bears” tour costs $70. Of course, the money goes towards supporting the center to that’s a good thing.
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue center mainly has bears, primates and birds but you’ll also find some other species like the python and iguana.
Plan your trip for early morning when the animals are most active. The zoo opens at 8:30 AM. Bring a lunch and a big water bottle. There are few places to eat and cleanliness standards may not agree with your intestines.