Friday, October 28, 2011

Phnom Tamao Zoo

Oh, my!

You know I had to do it!  You would, too.  Anyway...

Thanks to a dear friend of ours who has a car, the kids and I got to go to the zoo just outside of Phnom Penh today.  The whole family went once before, and we hired a taxi to take us then.  This time I told my friend it was easy to find and that we didn’t need a taxi.  Ha!  Who knows what she thinks of me right this moment?  I hope she has the same definition of “adventure” as I do! 

Anyway, it’s not exactly a zoo.  It’s the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, so the animals are actually pretty well taken care of and the maintenance is pretty good.  I hear that’s not the case in most of southeast Asia.  I don’t have anything to compare it to except American zoos and it’s different than those for sure but still nicer than I expected, considering things I had heard about Asian zoos. 

According to the sources I researched, and by “sources,” I really mean just one: Lonely Planet Cambodia, this is the region’s foremost wildlife sanctuary.  It houses animals which have been confiscated from traffickers or rescued from traps set by poachers.  Quite a few international wildlife NGOs like Free the Bears and others are helping to improve the facility.  Whenever possible, the animals are saved and then released back into the wild after they have recovered.  They also operate breeding programs for endangered and threatened species. 

It was a great experience, both the first time, when it was packed full of Cambodian families during a national holiday and this time, when we had the park almost to ourselves except for a few monks and a couple Cambodian families.  It’s kind of confusing to find your way around as there are roads that lead to nowhere and roads that go somewhere but we weren’t allowed to drive on.  It’s like a combo safari/zoo experience because you drive in but can park and walk around wherever you want.  Children inside the zoo try to sell you food to feed the animals and the price changes every time they ask you.  One little girl, the fifth time we said no, said “but the animals are hungry!”  The boys were dying to feed the otters so I paid $0.50 for something like 8 fish and then they wouldn’t do it.  I had fun doing it though!  Aren’t they cute?

And there are a few monkey cages but these wild monkeys were everywhere.  I mean, it’s a zoo, so why not hang out where you’ll be fed and photographed and maybe even loved?  They were fun little guys, huh?

And here are some of the other animals.  Yes, they were all in cages, minus a few monkeys.  I just used this cool focus trick of my camera to throw the cage so out of focus that you can't see it at all!

I don't care for snakes.  Like, ever.  But for my kids, I'll pretend they are super cool and photograph them and stand cautiously observing them.  And just to be nice, I'll even let the kids get between the snakes and me.  I'm an awesome Mom.

And the biggest is last!  The first time we went one elephant wasn't even in a cage!  All the elephants are amazing!

But wait.  What's this say?

Well, of course he may be dangerous!  Notice anything special about that elephant?

Here's a closer look:

Wow.  This place is doing great work!  If they can build a prosthetic leg for a 1+ ton (and still growing) ELEPHANT after his leg was caught in a trap, then I applaud them and think I may go back and pay some admission again just to support their cause!

And, of course, to people watch. I enjoy watching people and promise a "zoo part 2" post with people photos soon.

For now, here's my two favorite people, who can ask me to take them to the zoo any day they want!

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