Cambodia is home to 14 globally endangered species, including the Asiatic black bear, Malaysian sun bear, Asian elephant, Indochinese tiger and the Pileated gibbon. There are various national parks and protected forests in Cambodia, however, land encroachment, illegal logging and wildlife poaching gravely threatens all of these protected areas.


Keeping or poaching bears is illegal in Cambodia and despite recent efforts to increase penalties both hunting and killing of sun bear and Asiatic black bear continues. Free the Bears Fund has been working with the Cambodian Forestry Administration since 1997 to provide a sanctuary for confiscated bears at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre.


Our bears have been:  

  • Rescued from restaurants where they would have been butchered and served as bear paw soup to diners

  • Confiscated from hotels and restaurants where they were caged for the amusement of guests and tourists 

  • Seized from the black market where their gallbladders and other parts may have been used for traditional medicines or souvenirs 

  • Saved from poachers selling orphaned cubs as exotic pets or as status symbol

  • Illegally smuggling bears into neighbouring countries for use in bear bile farms

  • Donated by owners who have neglected them as pets and no longer want them

  • Freed from snare traps set in the forests to capture animals



The sanctuary is located at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, 40km from the capital Phnom Penh. Twenty one forested enclosures have been built over 7 hectares to house a mixture of Sun bears and Asiatic black bears of different ages and personalities.


All of the enclosures are extensively furnished with pools, rocks, hammocks, climbing frames, lush native vegetation and a variety of enrichment toys to ensure that the bears are kept happy and healthy at all times. Free the Bears Fund covers 100% of the running costs of the bear sanctuary and employs a team of local keepers to care for the bears.