Bear Rescue


Help to care for over 130 rescued bears that have experienced mistreatment in Cambodia. Provide enrichment for Malayan sun bears and Asiatic black bears, assisting local keepers at the wildlife centre. Explore Cambodia’s breath-taking scenery in your free time, visiting Ankgor Wat or Phnom Penh.


Key Info

key info
  • Location: 1 hour south of Phnom Penh
  • Start dates: Every Sunday
  • Duration: 1 - 8 weeks
  • Age requirement: 21+
  • Availability: Spaces available, limited in Nov
  • Cost: From £675 / €810 / $910 - see fees table below

Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

Volunteers work alongside local keepers to care for some of the 130 bears currently at the sanctuary. Every day can vary but work could include:

  • Preparing food and feeding the bears
  • Cleaning the enclosures inside and outside
  • Repairing and maintaining the enclosures
  • Making enrichment items for the bears such as filling up hollow bamboo with honey or other treats or making frozen fruit ice lollies.

Other tasks do not directly involve the bears but benefit them greatly, such as constructing new play areas, creating enrichments or weaving hammocks – bears love to climb!

Working days and hours

Volunteers work 5 days per week (Monday to Friday), generally from 8am - 4pm however this can vary.

Other volunteers

There are usually 1-4 volunteers at the project at any one time with a maximum of 6. You will be working with a larger full time team of staff.

Closure dates

Closed to volunteers between the following dates: 30 Oct - 5 Nov and 13 - 19 Nov 2016.

Volunteer Reviews

Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our Cambodia Bear Rescue reviews.

Why are volunteers needed?

The santuary employs full time Khmer staff to support the bears however many of the roles are labour intensive and there is always more to be done; whether it is fixing or expanding an enclosure, creating a new enrichment idea or simply helping with the daily duties.

By having support from international volunteers the santuary are able to get their message out to other tourists and travellers in Cambodia and increase the knowledge in the wider world on this little known species and the threats they are facing.

How is the Bear Rescue project making a difference?

Despite the fact that poaching and owning a bear as a pet are both illegal in Cambodia, bears are still targeting by pet traders, traditional medicine traders (bear bile being a highly priced commodity) and are often kept within the tourist industry.

The centre is home to around 130 bears in total, both Sun Bears (Helarctos malayanus) and Moon Bears (Ursus thibetanus). Many have been confiscated from homes following years of mistreatment as pets, seized from the black market trades or freed from snare traps.

Due to mass deforestation in Cambodia, re-release is difficult and many bears have long term health problems. The santuary aims to give them a comfortable life at the centre; enclosures are large with lush local vegetation, climbing frames and pools and volunteers and staff work hard to provide a variety of enrichments on a daily basis.

The Bear Rescue project also works with the local community to educate on bears, teaching children from local schools about the importance of conservation and preservation of the species.

Where will I be living?

You will live together with staff and other volunteers in a house around 30 minutes’ drive from the centre in a beautiful rural area surrounded by paddy fields and opposite a temple.

The volunteer house is a basic Cambodian style house with open-air ground floor and bedrooms upstairs. Bedrooms are shared 2-4 volunteers per room. Bathrooms are shared between volunteers and are cold water. The house has a kitchen and living area. There is no internet connection on site but volunteers can occasionally get phone signal.

Whilst it is possible to stay at the house at the weekend, most volunteers choose to go back to Phnom Penh on Friday night and use the weekend for sightseeing and exploring the city. Phnom Penh has beautiful temples and palaces, bustling night markets and is steeped in history. Some volunteers do also opt to visit Siem Reap on weekends however this is quite a rush for a weekend activity and so we would generally recommend visiting Ankor Wat before or after your placement.

What's included?

Before you go:

  • Carefully selected and vetted volunteer project
  • Support from our friendly and highly experienced Pod UK team
  • Single point of contact - Erin is your dedicated placement manager
  • In-depth Volunteering Guide on your volunteering placement
  • Travel information - visa, health and safety advice
  • Access to specialist travel insurance at exclusive rates
  • Recommended travel agency for flights and tours
  • Access to special deals and resources
  • Fundraising guide and support
  • Financial protection for monies paid to Pod

On your placement:

  • Animal care volunteering placement
  • Pick up from a meeting point in Phnom Penh and transfer
  • Accommodation - a basic shared room
  • Food - breakfast and dinner
  • Daily transport to the project site
  • Induction and training
  • Support from local team
  • Support from Pod UK office
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Incident Management and Emergency Response Plans

On your return:

  • Contact from your placement manager
  • Feedback scheme
  • Volunteering certificate (on request)
  • References (on request)
  • Member of the Pod community

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, visa (if required), food (lunch), weekend accommodation (optional). Budgeting guidance is provided in our Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply.

Pod Volunteer is run as a non-profit organisation. Fee levels are set to match costs and any surplus monies are distributed to the projects we work with via the Pod Charity.
Price table
1 week £675 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £345 GB Pounds

Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see


bears rescued by the team

"Pod is a no nonsense volunteer organisation looking to change lives"Cian


Pod UK Manager

Apply and you'll hear from Erin soon!

We look forward to receiving your application! There is no commitment by applying and we will send more information.



  • Cambodia Bear Rescue volunteer - Fiona

    “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.”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Cambodia Bear Rescue volunteer - I-Ching

    "I love that the keepers know each bear distinctly, working tirelessly to care for them. It gave me a unique experience, one which I can share with others, and hopefully create greater awareness of the plight of bears."

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Cambodia Bear Rescue volunteer - Mark

    “If you want to work hard, make a valuable difference and learn about the story of each bear 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!”

    Read more volunteer reviews


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


Sustainable needs-based volunteering projects that have lasting and positive impact on the local community. Volunteers of all ages are needed to make a difference overseas.

Structured to minimise costs for volunteers and maximise benefits for the projects we support.