Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our projects throughout Southeast Asia. On January 29th he visited Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center outside the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.
Nick, the extremely hands-on Program Manager for Wildlife Alliance, knows how to impress. This was the scene literally within a couple of minutes of my arrival at Phnom Tamao: http://www.youtube.com/user/GlobalGiving#p/u/0/Tt0zrJmfwuY
I’ve seen elephants in zoos and as rides at tourist traps before but to have them come right up to me like that was a thrill. I trusted Nick wouldn’t put me in a dangerous situation, but my heart couldn’t help but race having an animal of that size coming right up to me (though I think actually my Pepsi was in greater danger than I was).
But it’s not all just for show. Nick showed me a well run facility for caring for rescued wildlife and educating the public. And to talk to Nick, looking very much the part of the protector of wildlife, for one minute is to know his love for and devotion to his job and the animals. They have worked for about a decade to replace the original small cages with large enclosures, appropriate to each species. À la Jurassic Park, the cages are big enough that you don’t instantly see the healthy-looking animals within. And Phnom Tamao has it all: Asian black bears lounging in the sun, gibbons calling out for all to hear, creeping crawling crocodiles, loads of birds, otters doing back-flips.
Driven by the lucrative Chinese medicine market in the region, exotic appetites of Cambodia’s nouveaux riches, the pet trade and the destruction of natural habitats, there is unfortunately a thriving animal trade market and abundance of vulnerable animals in Cambodia. As I wrote about as part of a recent blog (http://blog.globalgiving.org/2010/02/06/a-tougher-sell/), Wildlife Alliance has a harder time raising funds for animals less captivating and familiar than elephants and tigers. Your donation helps them to sustain their efforts as the preeminent rescue center in Cambodia that never turns away any animal that shows up at their gate. Thanks!
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Communications and Finance Field Liaison