Phnom Tamao Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) is Cambodia’s largest zoo and wildlife sanctuary. The zoo is about a 45-minute drive outside Phnom Penh. Opened in 2000, Phnom Tamao Zoo is more a wildlife rescue center than a zoo, serving as a safe refuge to rare and endangered animals rescued from the clutches of poachers, traffickers and illegal wildlife traders.

Its residents now include more than 1,000 animals plus hundreds of exotic birds and reptiles. Managed by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Forestry Department with support from WildAid and Free the Bears Fund, the zoo occupies about 1,200 hectares land out of a 2,500-hectare forest protected area of Phnom Tamao that enjoys picturesque surroundings comprising mountains and ancient temples such as Phnom Tamao and Thmor Dos.

What to expect at Phnom Tamao Zoo

As you step into the grounds of Phnom Tamao, you’ll be welcomed by a small pool festooned with pelicans and storks. Adjacent to the pond are 2 small enclosures featuring crocodiles. The walk-through enclosures make for closer interaction with inhabitants such as boisterous gibbons and monkeys, freely wandering deer, hairy-nosed otters, peacocks and iguanas, among many others.

One of the most attractive sections of the zoo is the sun bear enclosure that's run by Free the Bears – an Australian organization whose key objective is to conserve, protect and improve the lives of bears. With a huge enclosure consisting of swimming pools, toys and hammocks, it's the largest sun bear sanctuary in the world, including Asiatic black bears as well as Malaysian sun bears that have been saved from the black market, hotels and restaurants.

How to Get to Phnom Tamao Zoo

Phnom Tamao Zoo is situated in Tro Pang Sap village, about 35 km southeast of Phnom Penh. It's easily accessible from National Road No 2, and a 5-km trail off the main road leads to the zoo.

In addition to buses, tuk tuks are available from the capital to reach here. To get a better idea about the residents of the zoo, you can rental the services of English-speaking guides.

Equally interesting at Phnom Tamao Zoo are enclosures that house scary pythons and chirping, colorful birds and parrots. Unlike most typical Asian zoos, PTWRC’s eco-friendly enclosures are extremely spacious and most take after the animals’ natural habitat. For instance, the tiger enclosure is set in an extensive, densely forested area with a rock hill. The zoo also offers the opportunity for visitors to feed animals and birds, with a number of vendors selling sugar cane, coconuts, and bananas.

Phnom Tamao Zoo near Phnom Penh

Location: National Road No 2, Tro Pang Sap Village, Ba Ti District, Takeo Province, Cambodia

Open: Daily from 8am to 5pm

Phone: +855 95 970 175

Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveler