Lions, Tigers and Bears…Oh My!

Matthew Wiltshire, Carly Costello, Cady Zuvich, Mattthew Levendosky

Our day started with an hour and a half bus ride out of the city to a wildlife preserve called Free the Bears, an organization that rehabilitates Asiatic Black Bears and Sun Bears, among other animals. After a quick introduction, we went to the bear cages to clean and prepare for their days. We raked leaves and put out treats while an unlucky few picked up poop. Lunch was next, but not for us. Preparing lunch for the bears, we stuffed bamboo and medicine balls with morning glory, jam and bananas.

We set off to see the rest of the reserve, which held more animals then we had anticipated, such as tigers and elephants. We were able to go into an interactive exhibit where we pet Elds deer, observed birds and had monkeys running past our feet. When we saw the pythons, they were accompanied by chickens – their lunch. We then were able to eat our lunch barefoot while sitting Indian style in a bamboo hut surrounded by netted hammocks tied together by volunteers at Free the Bears.

Following our lunch, it was lunchtime for the bears. We filled their bags with the lunch we prepared and watched as they ripped apart the bamboo. After the feeding we were able to see Sun Bear cubs, only a few months old. Around 1600 hours, feet dirty and bodies tired, so we made our way back to Phnom Penh.

While the wildlife group was at the reserve, the photo group started its day out with class time followed by an exploration of Phnom Penh. We first ventured to the National Museum of Cambodia located near our hotel. This museum houses and preserves the historic aspects of Cambodia and the Angkorian period, featuring artifacts dating back to the 6th century. The museum was constructed in 1917 and opened in 1920. With the museum housing all of these artifacts, there has been a reduction in looting of Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples. Following the National Museum, we visited Wat Phnom, a local Buddhist temple built in 1373. Wat Phnom was a short tuk-tuk ride from our hotel.

At night we traveled to a Buddhist temple to assist with English classes. Delaware students split into pairs and interacted with students of all ages and all English speaking ability. One group with primarily younger and inexperienced students taught the “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” song to help the students in learning parts of their body.

The following day, the wildlife students started at 8am by watching a documentary on Angkor Wat while the photography students visited Free the Bears. While little is known of the history, archeologists are discovering new information everyday.  After our lesson, we thought class was over, but we had one more assignment from Dr. Bowman: we were required to have fun on our last day in Phnom Penh.

We ventured out in order to fulfill our assignment. We went to the Central Market, where two brave students ate crunchy tarantulas. For lunch, we ate at a small Cambodian restaurant. Afterwards, some went to the hotel pool while others explored the city. Needless to say, we all got an A+ that day.G6P1

An Indochinese tiger paces around its cage at the Free the Bears Fund. (Matthew Wiltshire)


Matthew Wiltshire and a Cambodian English student after class.  (Lily Newton)


A sun bear waiting in anticipation for feeding time. (Carly Costello)


A hungry monkey snacks on a banana at the Free the Bears preservation. (Cady Zuvich)


UD students Rhiannon Hare and Stephanie Wirth stuff bamboo shoots with morning glory for the bears dinner. (Cady Zuvich)


Carly Costello bravely eats a spider at Phnom Penh’s Central Market (Kim Blasnik)


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