Bear Rescue - Volunteer Reviews


Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the Bear Rescue project

Chevaun - 2018

“Communication and email support from Lucy herself before, during, and after my trip to check in and see how I was getting on has been fantastic. It was so nice to know and very reassuring that she was in contact and very responsive and answered all of my questions and apprehensions.

Everything was exactly as described! You always have apprehensions as to whether it will be as stated, will they pick me up at 1pm from the cafe, YES THEY DID! Exactly on 1pm!

Working so closely with the bears was an incredible experience, they are so cute! Some have very sad backgrounds but it’s so lovely to see the life they now have with so much space to roam around and keepers that adore them. Having the opportunity to be a part of that is so rewarding, knowing that you are contributing to it even in a small way.

It is reasonably hard work but if you’re willing, you get out what you put in! Days consisted of cleaning dens, scatter feeding, chopping fruit and the other maintenance tasks such as painting the kitchen and sanding bamboo fences, but suddenly you will look up and there are bears no more than three feet from you!

The house is great, about 10 minutes down a straight road from the wildlife sanctuary.

The housekeeper cooks amazing meals during the week, but if you want your own snacks you get the opportunity to buy these on a Sunday before travelling to the house. Showers are cold but this is welcomed after a hot hard working day!

Jen is also fantastic and very helpful (along with trusty sidekick Mini the dog!) At the weekends in free time, I managed to go into Phnom Penh (about an hour away), and she recommended some fantastic restaurants and (as a treat) one of the best Spa's I have ever been to! The following weekend I made it up to Siem Reap, which is also a must see whilst in Cambodia, and Jen was very helpful in helping sort my travel up there (I flew in the end but you can get a bus)

Overall one of the best things I've ever done, thank you very much!”

Lisa - 2018

“I thoroughly enjoyed my two week placement at the Bear Rescue project in Cambodia; it is one of the best things I have ever done and I just wish it had been for a longer period of time! The pre-placement guidance and support from Pod Volunteer was excellent - I had so many questions and Lucy was incredibly patient and informative so I felt very well prepared and knew exactly what to expect.

The arrangements for pick-up, accommodation, meals and daily travel were very well-organised and Jen, the volunteer coordinator, was always available and happy to talk about the Center's work and answer the myriad of questions the volunteers had about the bears. The keepers absolutely adore the bears and it was wonderful to work with them - their enthusiasm and affection for their bears was palpable.

And of course, the stars were the bears themselves - they are expressive, intuitive, delightful and fun! It was an absolute privilege to be so close to them and to be involved with their daily activities, particularly their enrichment. I would have no hesitation in recommending a volunteer placement at this project!

What did you find most rewarding?

Being in such close proximity to the bears - the most amazing, almost human, animals!

What did you find most challenging?

Not being able to touch or cuddle the bears!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Don't hesitate - just do it!”

I Ching - 2015

"Good program where we worked closely with keepers at enclosures. Great and unique experience for a week.

Volunteering is a great way to expand experiences and do something out of your regular activities. I chose the Bears program in Cambodia due to a love of nature/animals and desire to visit a new country.

At the sanctuary, we would normally be attached to a house and work with the keepers - feeding breakfast, cage and enclosure cleaning (poo collection), scattering of snacks/fruits, etc. Lunch is taken at a shaded platform area, which comes with the opportunity to snooze in one of many hammocks available for siesta.

Afternoon is dedicated to food preparation, a huge task of chopping crates and crates of potatoes, melon, guavas, pumpkins... for hours, and allocating to the different houses accommodating >100 bears. Sometimes, we would be tasked to other activities such as sanding down the bamboo enclosures, painting or preparing enrichments. The work requires reasonable physical strength and endurance in humid weather, but it's fulfilling at the end of the day knowing we have done our bit in making it a better place for the bears.

Overall, the placement was truly satisfying - being able to observe these wonderful creatures and knowing they have a better life now, freed from horrors of their past.

What did you find most rewarding? Working up close with the bears, and observing them "being themselves" in a non-threatening environment. As rescued bears, I realize they must each come with a sad past, and the fact that a sanctuary exists to have them taken care of restores my faith in humanity. I love how the keepers know each bear distinctly and work tirelessly to care for them. This placement gave me a unique experience, one which I can share with others, and hopefully create greater awareness of the plight of mistreated bears.

What did you find most challenging? Humans, as in other volunteers! When another volunteer gets "too bossy" and exerts instructions over others, it gets unpleasant. The local keepers were wonderful to work with - though limited in ability to communicate in English, they were always polite in asking for the task on hand.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Be prepared for hard labor and humid conditions. The experience however is fulfilling, as it gave me an appreciation of how much effort and dedication is needed to upkeep a place like the sanctuary, and the difference it makes towards quality of life for these wonderful creatures. If you love nature/animals and don't mind a bit of work-out, this is a great way to do something different and expand your mind.

The accommodation was a lovely house surrounded by greenery. I only wished that the bathroom had better plumbing and was a bit cleaner.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I did extensive research on the net. Pod Volunteer offered a wide variety of opportunities which sounded feasible in terms of commitment. Seemed like a well organized establishment to volunteer with for first time overseas volunteering.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes"

Sally - 2015

"A wonderful time at the Bear Rescue project. I couldn't get enough of the Bears and great to see what good conditions they are kept in and how well loved and looked after by the Keepers and the organisation - a very dedicated team. A privilege to be part of it. The work was quite physical but not a problem if you are young and healthy - and you do get used the overpowering heat and humidity after a while!

What was a typical day at the Bear Rescue project? Straight to one of the Bear houses to assist the Keeper. Pick up poo, and left over banana leaves and uneaten veggies, in the cages and in the outside enclosures. Scrub the cages with soap and water (with a broom). Wash the feeding trays and cooking pots in the house. Hand out the bananas to the Bears under the cages. Then go to the Kitchen and was the large quantity of vegetables. Lunch for an hour. Back to the kitchen to chop the vegetables, weigh them and put them into the correct pots for each house. Make up enrichments (balls, bamboo or baskets, etc) and/or wash the used balls, wash the veg trays, sweep and clean up. Go back to the Bear house allocated to you and help distribute and hide the veggies around the outside enclosures. You may be asked to sand down walls/rails and/or varnish, or do prep work and make up a hammock. You will be told what to do. By the time everything is done it is 4pm and time to go home.

What did you find most rewarding? Just watching the Bears!

What did you find most challenging? Picking up the poo and scrubbing the cages with the broom - only because it got the back at a funny angle and I tended to get a bit weak. It wasn't a problem, I carried on (just a little unfit at 50!)

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Do it. It is very rewarding and it is great time away to stay somewhere different. You could also get a good mix of interesting people to spend time with."

Andrea - 2015

“What was a typical day at the Bear Rescue project? Morning was scooping poo from the outside enclosures, then poo scooping and cleaning the houses. Once completed it was time to prep the food, washing and chopping. Then scattering the food in the outside enclosures for the bears to find.

What did you find most rewarding? cleaning, painting, and repairing quarantine the 3 youngsters

What did you find most challenging? the heat!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? be prepared to sweat loads and get filthy and smelly lol!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? most rewarding thing I've ever done

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends? Yes! They were most helpful”

Fiona - 2015

"This was an amazing experience. I learnt such a lot and would do it again tomorrow! The bears are happy and well loved by their keepers. I really admire these people who devote their lives to caring for these beautiful animals.

What was a typical day at the Bear Rescue project? The morning was taken up by helping the bear keepers clean the enclosures and feed the bears, then food and and enrichment preparation.

In the afternoon we continued food preparation, then helped with scattering. If there was time afterwards, we helped making hammocks, clearing the grounds, etc.

What did you find most rewarding? The whole experience was rewarding! However hard we had to work, however much we sweated, those bears are worth it! Seeing them playing around and enjoying their enrichment was just so worthwhile.

What did you find most challenging? The heat, I have never sweated so much!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Be prepared for hard work and accepting to do menial tasks.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Broaden your horizons, give some of your time to a good cause, it's so rewarding."

Diane - 2015

"My initial worries about being the only "old" woman in a group of young students were unfounded as the group I was with was a really good mix of ages, backgrounds and nationalities, all with the same common interest in bears and in supporting the excellent and necessary work performed by the Bear Rescue programme.

The project house was in a lovely spot about 40 minutes drive from the sanctuary and, whilst the accommodation itself was basic, it was fine and had the unexpected bonus of a pool which was so welcome after a hard day working in the Cambodian heat & humidity!

The work at the sanctuary was pretty varied and it is important to have a reasonable level of fitness to cope with working in this climate and the walking involved. It was wonderful to be so close to the bears and be so involved with their care; there were many days when I just sat at lunch time watching the Sun Bears play and had to pinch myself, to be so close and to see them so happy and well cared for - especially knowing what horrendous conditions most had been rescued from - was a dream come true for me. Although many of the tasks needed to be done each day, there was an opportunity to do something different every day. Even humble tasks such as raking leaves allowed the fantastic and dedicated keepers to focus on other more bear-focused work, and it was rewarding to feel that I was doing something worthwhile - and of course the money you pay to volunteer provides vital funding to continue to provide sanctuary for these amazing bears.

The Volunteering Guide provided by Pod was useful and accurate and provided me with everything I needed to know. It was my first trip to SE Asia and I don't think anything could have prepared me for the assault on all of my senses but I quickly became acclimatised and had the opportunity to spend time in Phnom Penh at the weekends and learn more about the Khmer history and culture, which was fascinating and sobering in equal measure. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and would recommend it to anyone.

A typical day would probably start with helping one of the keepers - the bears are brought in from their enclosures to be given breakfast (rice porridge with fruit & veg) and whilst they are inside you go out and hide biscuits or honey and collect the faeces in a bucket which is used to make methane gas for cooking in bears food. When the bears go out again after breakfast, you clean out and wash down the inside enclosures, clean the feed trays etc. Then you might go over to the Kitchen to prepare "enrichment" for the bears which may involve making large treat balls, stuffing bamboo or banana stalks with dog biscuits fruit & honey, or making frozen fruit lollies. After lunch you might wash vegetables and chop and prepare a variety of fruit and vegetables (varied each day) and carefully weigh out these into large containers for each Bear "house". After lunch you would help scatter the food in the enclosures. You might scrub the previous day's treat balls and help scrub down the kitchen area - everything is kept as clean as possible. If you don't go to the kitchen you might be involved in painting or scraping old paint off enclosure ready for repainting. I even had the opportunity to help translate hand written health notes containing Vet notes, treatments, medication, drugs etc. and record these on a spreadsheet to help retain better records.

What did you find most rewarding? Just knowing that my contribution, no matter how small, was helping to maintain and provide urgent and must needed resources to keep these fantastic creatures safe and free from the pain in this vital sanctuary.

What did you find most challenging? I think the heat and humidity was the biggest challenge and I would recommend that anyone even slightly overweight thinks carefully about the time of year you intend to go.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Don't go in the Cambodian Summer and be realistic about where you are going - this isn't Disneyland. And take plenty of heavy duty bug spray!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? You can make a difference, meet some lovely and interesting people and see a bit of a new country, culture & history - what's not to like.

Why did you choose Pod? It offered the opportunity to volunteer with bears which I couldn't find anywhere else."

Mark – 2014

"What was a typical day at the project? An early morning start and breakfast at the volunteer house awakens the body for a full on day of hard work. You are mostly given the opportunity to choose which jobs you feel like helping out with or which bear keeper to work alongside with. You time and efforts is not to be there to cuddle with the bears, but more importantly to help maintain and improve their quality of life. You can expect to do any job from scooping up bear poop and cleaning the enclosures, creating new enrichment programmes, preparing food for the meals and even handy construction around the centre, such as building bear hammocks and painting. Be prepared to work hard but feel a huge level of satisfaction at the end of the day.

What did you find most rewarding? Even though the bears may not recognise exactly the reason why you are there for them, the feeling of knowing that you are contributing to their much improved quality of life and rehabilitation from previous abuse and cruelty is a truly rewarding feeling.

What did you find most challenging? The heat can prove challenging especially during the hottest times at the day, but the body does climates to it and there is always a room with a fan and fresh water available should you need to escape it.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project? If you want to work hard, make a valuable difference and learn about the stories of each bear at the sanctuary then just go for it. The reward is totally worth the efforts you put in. The team that looks after the bears are just amazing and you will learn as much as you want to about the bears.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering abroad not only gives you a great opportunity to travel and see another country, but it allows you to be a part of another community with completely different traditions, values and morals in life. The experience you gain from living in a community completely different to your own creates greater understanding of the diversity of the world and more so in a country less developed then your own gives you a better appreciation of your life and, hopefully, the desire to want to help improve others less fortunate than yourself.”

Petra – 2014

“The Bear Rescue project in Cambodia was a great place to do my first volunteer work ever! The people that work for this organisation are very professional. The have a great passion on bears and animal welfare. The sanctuary is in a zoo. It's the best maintained part of the zoo. With a lot of information and education for local and international visitors.

The volunteering I really enjoyed. It is a great and rather professional organisation. It was good to see how well organized they are. And the bears...I just fell in love with all 150 of them! Beautiful animals. I am really glad that I choose this project to volunteer. And also 2 weeks is very nice period to do.

The interaction with the bears and the bear keepers was great. It felt useful for me to work with the bears. And after a long day of work I got my reward: the swimming pool at the volunteer house!

What was a typical day at the project? A typical day is getting up at 7 and leaving around 8 after breakfast. It is a half hour drive to the zoo/sanctuary. For 2 hours you give the bears breakfast, cleaning poo outdoor and scrub the cages. After 2 hours you can choose to paint, clean or prepare food enrichments for the bears.

Lunch we had in a local place. After eating it was nice to chill a bite in a hammock. Like all Cambodian do. After lunch you start with the preparing of food. A lot of cutting different kind of vegetables and fruit. You could help with scattering the food. This w ill stimulate the bears in a natural behavior to search for food. In the afternoon it was a half hour back to the volunteer house w here it is nice to take a swim after a long hot day.

What did you find most rewarding? Working with the bear keepers was the most rewarding. It is nice to see their devotion to bears. It was sometimes hard work and sweaty but very rewarding.

What did you find most challenging? To finish my hammock for the new moon bear house. It takes a lot of time and work. I w anted to finish before I left. I almost made it. A bit of a race against the clock.

It is the hottest month for Cambodia. That I noticed! I sweated a lot. But the physical work was good for resetting my mind and very nice to do. Every evening I was fell asleep very easy.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project? There is no TV or computer in the volunteer house. Take care of your own entertainment (books, cards, computer). I didn't mind but if you are attached it will not be there. Bring bug spray and use it in the zoo and volunteer house. There are mosquitos. Not a lot but enough to get you. You must not be afraid to get dirty or sweaty.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It is a good w ay to reset your mind. You give something to the project/organisation and you meet nice people. It is nice not to think about yourself for a while. Just focussing on giving is good for your mind.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! Pod gave me good information and arranged the contacts with the organisation abroad. They responded very quickly. Good luck and who knows maybe I will get in contact in the future for a new challenge!”

Louise – 2013

“My time at the project was, without exaggeration, one of the best times in my life. And Pod were excellent, I can't ask for anything more.

What was a typical day at the project? In the morning (about 8.30 til 10) we often helped the bear keepers with cleaning in the bear houses and the enclosures. Between 10-12 we did different kind of tasks that needed to be done - painting, cleaning windows, making bear hammocks, gardening and so on. Between 12 and 13 it's lunch break which we ate at a nearby restaurant (which is outdoors and not anything like a western restaurant). Most dishes, that are vegetarian, only cost 1 USD. If you want meat/chicken it costs 4 USD. If you wanted to buy something to drink (Coca Cola, coconut and so on) it didn't cost more than 1 USD. After lunch we did some food prep. At food prep we weigh, chop and divide a lots of fruits and vegetables. Often we did some food enrichment to (like hiding banana pieces dipped in honey in a banana leaf). Thereafter we continued with tasks that needed to be done (painting, making hammocks and so on) until we ended for the day. Sometimes we went from food prep to scatter feeding before doing the other tasks. When scatter feeding you helped the bear keepers hiding all the food (that you chopped) in different places in the enclosure.

What did you find most rewarding? It's really hard to choose one thing. We actually talked about this at the project what we preferred doing. I actually loved everything (and I'm not usually that kind of perky person that loves everything). But if I should try picking something I probably would say scatter feeding if you did stay and watch the bears looking for their food. And I really, really loved spending time at the quarantine were there were a few cubs (4 month old at the time). They actually often have cubs at the centre. The reason to this is that most of the bears coming to the centre are cubs because that their mothers have been killed during poaching. However, you won't get to touch the cubs (because they might hurt you unintentionally while playing with you) but it's really rewarding just watching them too.

What did you find most challenging? Because I loved everything nothing really were challenging in a bad way. The scrubbing of cages in the bear houses was a little bit physically heavy but I didn't mind doing it. And if you would find something to challenging the staff wouldn't force you to do anything. They treat you really good. As an "animal rights-person" I didn't know what to expect with animals in captivity but I honestly do think that the bears have the best lives possible under the circumstances.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project? Do it and embrace the experience! It's my best advice. You won't regret it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? For the same reason that I keep on doing it - you get experiences you won't get as a usual tourist. You get to know a lot of new people - both locals and other volunteers. You get to know the country you're in and the everyday life there, especially if you're interested and ask the staff/locals a lot. I always learn so much during my volunteer trips. And you get to feel so pleased with yourself doing something really useful. If I didn't love volunteering abroad I wouldn't keep on doing it. Personally, I never feel so at home as when I do this kind of trips.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! Mostly because they offered an interesting project with animals in Cambodia (since it was what I was looking for). But I also chose Pod because of their responsibility to societies, animals and so on. I really do value that. I’ve been really, really pleased with both the project and you at Pod. This I’ve told a lot of people as well. I couldn’t ask for anything else. You at Pod have taken excellent care of me from the very first beginning and I really appreciate that.”

Caroline – 2013

“The bear sanctuary is very well set up and it was great to be able to see this and in some way contribute to its development. The bears' environment was brilliant and they were very well cared for.

The centre did a lot of educational work to try to prevent more bears from ending up there, and it was sustainably run, e.g. by using the waste water to irrigate plants that would later be used for food. Most of the people working there were local and it appeared the centre provided important employment/training etc to the local community.

As a volunteer it was great to find out about and in some way contribute to this work. In a week it is difficult to feel as if you have contributed very much, but the time was very enjoyable and informative. The staff were very welcoming and we had plenty of time to watch all the bears and see the other animals at the centre.

What was a typical day at the project? Spending only 5 days there each day was quite varied, however we would usually arrive at the centre about 815. We would often prepare enrichment before lunch and prepare food after lunch. Other time was spent doing things such as maintenance tasks, assisting keepers and seeing the other animals at the park.

What did you find most rewarding? The opportunity to watch the bears so much more closely than as a visitor and see how happy and healthy they appeared. The tasks that directly contributed to their welfare were particularly rewarding, e.g. food and enrichment preparation. The centre was clearly very well set up and run, and every task that contributed to its continuing development was also very rewarding. It seemed as if the centre also benefited the local community as well as bears by providing employment and training etc for many local people.

What did you find most challenging? Working in the heat and humidity

What advice would you give to others considering this project? I would definitely recommend this placement, especially if you are looking for more of a personal experience as they don't have lots of volunteers at one time.”

Roald – 2013

“Even though the information on the website is really good, I honestly didn’t really know what I signed up for. I love wildlife, but I didn’t know anything about bears. All that changed in two amazing weeks in Cambodia. Put in one simple description: the project is great!

You’re not heading to Cambodia and helping out with a brilliant bear project just for the fun activities. No matter how boring one may find some of the activities are, they are helping out the bears and doing a big difference in their previous sad life. And with the company of other great volunteers and local workers the time runs away.

What was a typical day at the project? Wake up 6:45am and enjoy brekkie. Head to center 7:30am. 8am-12pm: Different activities (helping out bear keepers, painting, creating enrichments or hammocks etc.) depending on interests and skills. 12-13pm: Lunch. 13-14pm: Food prep. 14-16pm: Same as 8am-12pm.

What did you find most rewarding? Helping out on a great project!

What did you find most challenging? The heat. I didn't see any rain, had only sunny days.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Go for it! If you're not used to the climate, go when there are better chances of rain.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Sustainable tourism. Make a difference while enjoying the hospitality of a country.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend them? Yes because they’re a non-profit volunteering organisation.”

Susana – 2012

“How’s life at the centre? I am doing great here. Busy work everyday and I love the bears. They are sooooo cute.

I really enjoyed the whole experience, and knowing that my work and part of my placement fees goes to help the bears that I had the pleasure to get to know, is a major motivation of my volunteering work. I have learnt a lot on the project, the bears and what we can do to help. This is my first overseas volunteering experience, and I hope to do many more in the years to come.

What was a typical day at the project? I got the chance to help out around the center, doing various tasks such as watering the grass for the bear enclosure, watering the plants, painting their cages, making a hammock, scooping poos, and prepare food and enrichments for the bears.

What did you find most rewarding? My favourite part is to prepare enrichment and food for the bears. And give it out to them afterwards. I can see the joy from the bears from getting their snacks!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? To expand your horizon, to give yourself the chance to help the underprivileged.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend them? Yes! It is well organized and very informative. The projects are a great cause and it's not a vacation volunteer like many others.”

Michella – 2012

"What was a typical day at the project? We would start at day with helping the keepers a little bit, but mostly we would start cleaning enrichment toys, paint or other task like that. We have spent a lot of time making hammocks to the bears. After lunch we would do the food prep for all the bears, and after that we would typically do the same as in the morning.

What did you find most rewarding? Enrichment for the bears, but mostly to meet the Khmer keepers and the culture.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? To meet a lot of great people and a new exciting culture!

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend them? Yes! Because Pod seemed very professional and be on top of things, which also was the case.”

Luis – 2012

“Everything was just amazing from beginning to end!

I really felt like I did make a difference: I don't have a veterinary background nor experience with other animals, but my job at the centre freed time for the research volunteers and staff to think about ways of how to improve the bears' lives or focus on important matters such as a bear's amputation; at the same time, we improved the centre by planting trees or building hammocks for the bears, things that the staff doesn't really have the time to do.

Also, it is absolutely transparent the way the volunteers' fees are spent: your money does is indeed spent in correct ways, and it does make a difference. 100% recommended in every single way.

What was a typical day at the project? Wake up at 6am to have a yoga class. Eat breakfast at 7:30am. Get to the centre at 8:10am. Continue building a hammock for the bears for an hour and a half. Go to a bear enclosure to clean it and spread their food around. Prepare the bears' enrichments and feeding them. Have lunch at 12. Come back at 1 and start preparing the bears' food for the afternoon. Finally, have a tour around some of the other animal enclosures. Go back to the volunteer house at 4. Enjoy a beer with the other volunteers, have dinner at 6:30, and finish by hanging out with the other volunteers at the house.

What did you find most rewarding? That I indeed made a difference. Maybe not directly through my actions, but indirectly but freeing time for the research volunteers and the Cambodian staff to actually improve the conditions of the centre and its animals.

What did you find most challenging? Jetlag. After that, the other volunteers and the staff at the centre made every task absolutely enjoyable, as hard as they might have been. Working in the sun could be exhausting at some points, but it's totally manageable.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Keep your eyes and ears open for everything around you: the bears, the centre, and the people, both from the centre as well as the Cambodian citizens. It's an experience that will make you feel better about yourself in many ways.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's fun, rewarding, you get to know places and their people in a very personal way, which you could never do as a tourist; you'll meet amazing people from all over the world, you will work hard, and you will be contributing a bit to improve the world. You'll make a difference.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend them? Yes! They were recommended by a friend.”

Georgie – 2012

“The accommodation and people were great! I loved seeing the bears every day!

What was a typical day at the project? A typical day included making enrichments, cleaning enclosures, preparing food and giving out food.

What did you find most rewarding? Seeing the bears and making enrichments for them

What did you find most challenging? The heat!!

What advice would you give to others considering this project? I would tell them it was fun and I recommend it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? To make a difference.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend them? Yes, I would recommend them. I love bears and wanted to work with them”

Sheryl – 2011

“How's life at the project? We are both doing well. We've settled in and are enjoying our time here learning about the bears and the project. Thanks again for setting this up.

What was a typical day at the project? In the morning you help the keepers clean out the enclosures and the dens. You will also get to help feed the bears in some cases. After which you will do some enrichment prep. After lunch you will prepare the afternoon snacks for the bears and help scatter the snacks in the enclosures. You will also help make enrichment items e.g. hammocks, stuffing bamboo shoots etc.

What did you find most rewarding? Being with the bears!

What did you find most challenging? The physical activities made more difficult by the warm temperatures! You get used to it after a day or two though.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? To experience other cultures

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend them? A friend referred me. Yes, the service is excellent.”

Heather - 2011

“What was a typical day at the project? 7am wake up and breakfast 8am leave for sanctuary 8.30am start work - cleaning, picking up poo, scrubbing enclosures, feeding 10.30am enrichment and other odd jobs 12pm lunch 1pm food preparation 1.30pm odd jobs e.g. hammock making, painting 2.30pm feeding 4pm home and rest.

What did you find most rewarding? Seeing the bears and being able to interact with them a little!

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Don't bother packing warm clothes if going in the hot or wet season - they were a big waste of space in my suitcase!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It gives you a great experience of another culture and volunteering is an excellent way of integrating more with locals and their way of life, rather than just travelling around tourist attractions.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend them? I chose Pod because they offered the chance to work with bears - which is not an easy thing to find elsewhere and from my experience I would highly recommend them.”

Sara – 2010

"I had an absolute ball. It was thoroughly rewarding and enriching. Learning about all the bears and animals and how the sanctuary helped with their plight was a real eye opener. I have recommended this programme to everyone I know!

In the morning we would help the keepers clean the cages and enclosures. After lunch we would prepare and weight the food for the bears, then help with enrichment toys, and finally do any other tasks that needed doing, like taking out the bear cubs for a walk.

I loved being up close and personal with the bears, and hearing each rescue story."

Natasha – 2009

"Yes everything went smoothly. They are great here. The program is well organised and very good!"

Laura – 2009

"Would definitely recommend the placement because it was so rewarding and an experience that I will treasure forever."

Kevin – 2009

"If you are willing to get dirty the rewards are there, getting that close to the bears seeing how much better you can make their lives after what people have done to them. It didn't matter in the end if it was two weeks or like the others part of their lives. It was for the bears and great to see them enjoy a better life. Enriching the enclosures you feel rewarded even if you only make a difference for two weeks. Although it was a working holiday it was my best one. The people were great & Cambodia is great to explore on your time off."

Gemma – 2009

"Caring for the animals, by helping to feed them and by cleaning and enriching their environments, was a totally unique experience. It was a world away from my typical day in the office and very refreshing. I really enjoyed being part of these great programs and helping to care for these wonderful creatures, who have sadly been captured and/or mistreated by people before being rescued and brought to live in the centres. I'm glad they have a natural and positive home now."

Lynn – 2009

"So far so good. First week has been collecting bear poo, scrubbing the cages and then feeding and hiding treats in the enclosures in the afternoons. There are 102 bears here, but the favourite must be nutkins who is a 5 month old bear cub who is really cute and playful. Has huge claws though already.

We had a whole tour of the zoo on Monday and saw the elephants having a dip in the lake!

The people here are really nice. There are another 3 volunteers coming next week.

Have come to Phnom Pehn for the weekend with one of the girls, so next weekend when i come back on my own I will know what I am doing! The city is very busy compared to the village we are in.

I would definitely recommend people to come for as long as possible. I am already thinking what I can do next."

Lynsey – 2008

"I had a great time in Cambodia caring for the bears at the wildlife sanctuary.  I'd never been to South-East Asia, nor had I done any kind of conservation or voluntary work overseas before.  I would definately recommend the bear rescue project to anyone who is thinking of volunteering through the Pod site.  The people out there are all really friendly and made me feel very welcome and part of the team straight away.  I will not hesitate in booking my next volunteer project through Pod!"  

Sylvia – 2008

"Just to let you know I had the best time ever. It was great I really enjoyed myself. It's such a shame for the bears but thank god they have a centre like this one, everyone had great passion. It was brilliant. The guesthouse was alot better than I thought it would be and very helpful and friendly.

Be ready to work, it's not too hard it's just the heat that makes it feel hard. Remember that the animals are wild as much as you would love to give them huge hug you can't! Just have fun."

Find out more about the Bear Rescue project


  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal