The WatOpotians were invited to Phnom Tamao (a Zoo about 30 minutes away) to take an educational one-day seminar from the Free the Bears Organization. Armed with a sense of adventure and a few cameras, fifteen of our teen’s attended. The following is their report.
Upon arrival we sat down and learned about the bears, where they came from (Thailand, India, Cambodia, Vietnam and China) and why they were brought to the zoo. The 119 bears who live at Phnom Tamao were rescued. Some were abused, caught in traps, used for pets, or were to be killed for medicine. There was a cage of baby bears right next to where we were meeting.
We learned about the two different bears, the Sun Bears who have a U-shaped marking around their necks and the Asiatic Black Bears who have a V-shaped marking.
We could see that the Sun Bears are smaller in size than the Asiatic Black Bear.
Next on the agenda was the Jam Smear. Arranged into 3 teams, we were given small containers filled with different flavored jam.
We entered the bears area (luckily the bears had been taken out) and smeared the jam on different areas such as on leaves, their wood play area and anywhere the bears could find it. The bears have a very good sense of smell so we tried to put the jam in hard to find places also.
Then we exited the area and the bears were allowed to come in. They found the jam right away!
While waiting for the other teams to finish, we were able to get up close and personal with some of the Sun bears.
We had time for one more activity before lunch and we made paper mache toys for the bears. We covered boxes, which will be filled with food and then given to the bears. The bears will have fun finding the food and even though they will destroy the boxes, they will have fun doing it.
Finally it was time for lunch, we were so hungry and tired, so it was nice to relax for a bit.
We were given a packet containing bear information along with activities to color. Our artistic talent was judged once we got back to the meeting place.
Sombaht, Srey Lak, Srey Nou, RongNith, Nak and Ya all won a snack and drink!
We then went on a personal tour of the zoo. We learned about the other rescued animals there such as an elephantwho wears a prosthetic leg. We also learned more about the monkeys (our favorite), snakes, leopards and the tigers.
After that we fed the bears again by putting bananas, greens, vegetables into their cages. The bears eat the same food people can eat and they watched us closely for their chance to run into the cage once we were finished.
We all held up our booklets and took a few pictures then walked tiredly to the truck, luckily we did not have to push start the truck to go back home, because I don’t think we would have had the energy to do that again. We headed back to Wat Opot excited to tell the others about our experience…oh and of course to put all our photo’s on Facebook!