Earlier this year, our Care for Rescued Wildlife Program (CRW) began offering exclusive behind the scene tours at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC), with proceeds benefitting the rescue and care of animals at the Center. This unique experience offers visitors an opportunity to interact with some of the charismatic animals at PTWRC, as well as meet the remarkable people that care for them. These tours began in April, and have since become wildly popular!
Starting up a new tourist activity in the low season can be very difficult. However, with the help of the internet and some planning by tour manager Victoria Evans, the word began to spread. After reaching out to many hotels and local journalists, two writers finally responded and one subsequently featured the tour on the cover of The Advisor, a local magazine. The first guest to sign up was an American primatologist visiting Phnom Penh who happened to pick up the magazine in a coffee shop. For the next 7 days, there were 6 tours, and since then 3-4 tours every week.
Each tour accommodates only 2-7 guests, creating a very personalized experience. The Wildlife Tours allow guests to not only meet the animals at PTWRC, but also learn about their incredible stories. Often, the highlight of the tour is interacting with the elephants. Visitors get a chance to meet Chhouk, our elephant with a prosthetic front leg, to demonstrate our positive-reinforcement elephant training. Guests also really enjoy meeting one of our friendly female gibbons, who was likely a pet before she was rescued. She makes a soft hooting noise and slowly slides her leg toward us for grooming. When she's had enough of that, she turns around to get her back scratched. Intimate experiences like this are what make the Wildlife Tours so special.
The Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is now listed on TripAdvisor.com as one of the top things to do in Phnom Penh. The response to the Wildlife Tours has been overwhelmingly positive. Colleen and Freddie, a lovely couple visiting for their honeymoon wrote, “In our 6 weeks traveling around Southeast Asia, we did many things, but this experience is at the top of our list! Seeing how much love and care is given to all of the rescued animals as well as the desire to educate is something that will stay with us. My favorite part of the day was taking a walk with Lucky the elephant and watching her take a bath. It's obvious that she is happy, healthy and well cared for.”
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