Bear RescueCambodia

The Bear Rescue team in Cambodia care for over 120 rescued Sun Bears and Moon Bears that have experienced mistreatment.

You will work with the local keepers to help with duties such as feeding the bears, providing enrichments, and maintaining the enclosures. As many of the bears suffer from long term health problems, re-releasing them into the wild is difficult. Volunteers help the team to create a comfortable life for the bears which replicates the wild as closely as possible. The project works with the local community to promote the importance of conserving and raising awareness of the threats facing the species.

Explore the nearby bustling city of Phnom Penh that has beautiful temples and palaces and is steeped in history.

Support the team’s efforts to provide a safe haven for the bears.

Apply

Key Info

key info
  • Location: 1 hour south of Phnom Penh
  • Start dates: Every Sunday
  • Duration: 1 - 6 weeks
  • Age requirement: 18+
  • Availability: Spaces available
  • Cost: From £645 / €710 / $800 - see fees table below
View More Photos

Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

The project aims to provide the rescued Sun Bears and Moon Bears at the centre a comfortable life. Many of the bears unfortunately suffer from long term health problems, or are unable to be re-released due to mass deforestation in Cambodia. The enclosures are large with vegetation, climbing frames and pools.

Volunteers are supervised by the experienced animal keepers at the centre, working together to care for over 120 bears currently at the rescue centre. Volunteers may get involved in the following tasks: 

  • Preparing food and assisting the keepers to feed the bears
  • Repairing and maintaining the enclosures
  • Working with the keepers to clean the enclosures
  • Making enrichment items and activities for the bears. An enrichment activity is anything that makes the bears’ lives more interesting such as filling up hollow bamboo with honey or other treats, making frozen fruit ice lollies, rebuilding climbing frames, putting out dead trees etc.
  • Constructing new play areas or weaving hammocks – bears love to climb!

There is a strict hands off policy at the project as these are large and wild animals, which are potentially dangerous. The less contact they have with humans the more likely they will be able to express their normal animal behaviours.You can learn more about the project here. 

Typical day 

On your first Monday you will receive an induction tour by the local team to the centre. Your induction will include a run through of how the centre works and the different jobs that need to be carried out to support the bears and the maintenance of the centre.

Each week volunteers help at the centre Monday to Friday, from approximately 8:30am to 4pm, with an hour lunch break. During the weekends, you can spend your free time relaxing or exploring Phnom Penh and the rest of what Cambodia has to offer.

Other volunteers

There are usually 1-4 volunteers with a maximum of 7 volunteers, who work alongside a larger team of staff.

Local support

Jen and Mr Thol are the Volunteer Coordinators at the Bear Rescue project and will be your primary contacts during your placement. Jen lives at the volunteer accommodation Monday to Friday and is also contactable during weekends.

Accommodation

You will live together with staff and other volunteers in a house around 5 minutes’ drive from the centre.

Volunteer bedroom

Bedrooms and bathrooms are shared between 1-2 volunteers (usually on a single-sex basis). The house has a communal kitchen and living areas for volunteers to use. There is Wi-Fi and phone signal onsite for volunteers to use.

Volunteer living area

Meals

From Sunday to Thursdays, breakfast and dinner will be prepared for you. On weekdays, you can buy lunch at the centre or you can alternatively bring a packed lunch using items you can buy in Phnom Penh when you arrive or at weekends.

Here are typical examples of the food you will have: 

  • Breakfast – bread, toast, cereals, spreads and eggs
  • Lunch – local Khmer food such as fried rice can be purchased at the centre for $1-4
  • Dinner (Sunday to Thursday) – A traditional Khmer meal of meat, tofu or vegetable stir fries or curries served with either rice or noodles  

If you choose to stay at the volunteer house over the weekends you can make your own meals using basic ingredients provided for you to use such as pasta, rice, sauces and vegetables. 

Vegetarians and vegans are welcomed and can be catered for.

Drinking water is provided whilst you are at the centre and at the volunteer accommodation.

Location and free time

Volunteers spend their evenings relaxing at the volunteer house. There is a comfortable lounge and outdoor area. The evenings are quiet, volunteers generally either relax together or spend time reading, playing games or watching a film on the projector.

Weekends are free for you to relax at the volunteer house or to explore Cambodia. Phnom Penh, is about an hour away and a great place to visit at weekends. There is a lot to do in the city, you can do some sightseeing, enjoy some of the many bars and restaurants, or even relax and treat yourself in one of the nicer hotels. A tuk tuk can be arranged by the volunteer coordinator (approximately $25) to Phnom Penh on a Friday afternoon.

Phnom Penh

Volunteers often choose to visit the charming coastal towns of Kampot or Kep over the weekends, a great way to unwind and enjoy life in provincial Cambodia! A weekend trip to the famous temple Angkor Wat is also a popular option for volunteers. Weekend trips can be arranged with the local team.

Travelling in Cambodia before or after your placement

Popular activities in Cambodia that you might like to combine with your project are:

  • Explore the stunning temples at Siem Reap including the iconic Angkor Wat
  • Take a boat on the Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in South-East Asia
  • Visiting the beautiful towns of Kampot and Kep and the islands off this coastline 

For more information on Cambodia and some of the things we loved when we visited there please see our Cambodia country page. This also features all our other Cambodia volunteering projects as you might like to consider combining this project with one of the others we offer to make a trip of a lifetime!

Angkor Wat

Climate

The Takeo Province has a tropical climate, it is hot and humid throughout the year with temperatures from 26 to 31 degrees Celsius. The coldest months are December to February, coinciding with the dry season from December to April. There can be tropical rain showers at any time of year, but the main rainy season is from May to November, with the heaviest rains in September.

Dates

Start dates are every Sunday. The project is closed to volunteers between 29 Mar - 2 May 2020. 

What’s Included

Included

  • Dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist to support you
  • Pick up from a meeting point in Phnom Penh and transfer
  • Accommodation - a simple shared room
  • Food – breakfast and dinner
  • Induction
  • Support from the local team
  • Support from the Pod Volunteer UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Volunteering certificate and reference (on request)

Not included

  • Flights and travel from Phnom Penh airport to the meeting point
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa
  • Vaccinations and medication required
  • Transfer from the project
  • Living costs – lunch, snacks, drinks, laundry
  • Any tourist trips / activities you choose to do in your free time
Price table
1 week £645 GB Pounds
2 weeks £995 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £295 GB Pounds

Discounts

  • £75 discount for every additional project you book as part of the same trip
  • £75 discount if you have previously volunteered with Pod Volunteer 

Where the money goes – financial transparency

Your fee covers the overseas costs of volunteering and the costs of running our organisation in the UK, on a non-profit basis.  For more details and a breakdown of our costs please click here.

Book with confidence - financial protection

All monies paid to us are financially protected through The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT). 

Apply

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

Read volunteer reviews from the Bear Rescue project

Chevaun 

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

Lisa 

“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. 

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!”

Sally

“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.

Just watching the Bears was rewarding! 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.”

Petra

“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 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. The interaction with the bears and the bear keepers was great. It felt useful for me to work with the bears.”

Read more reviews

204

bears rescued by the team

"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder

Lucy

Pod UK Specialist

Lucy has visited the project, apply and you'll hear from her soon!

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

Apply

VOLUNTEER REVIEWS

  • 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

SIMILAR PROJECTS

We have other projects you may be interested in

Wildlife Rescue

Wildlife Rescue

Thailand FIND OUT MORE
Elephant and Wildlife Conservation

Elephant and Wildlife Conservation

Sri Lanka FIND OUT MORE

COMBINE PROJECTS

You can also combine projects to make the volunteering trip of a lifetime!

Elephant Conservation

Elephant Conservation

Cambodia FIND OUT MORE
Dog and Cat Rescue

Dog and Cat Rescue

Thailand FIND OUT MORE

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • 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