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At Phnom Tamao, a Zoo of Rescued Wild Things

Cambodia’s Phnom Tamao zoo, with 1,200 animals and around 80 species, is a rare facility, populated mostly by animals indigenous to the country, many of them confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade.

Nick Marx, an animal husbandry specialist for Wildlife Alliance in Phnom Penh, is director of the group’s wildlife rescue program at the zoo. In a recent interview with VOA Khmer in Washington, where he visited in September, Marx discussed some of the zoo’s characteristics.

“There are a lot wild animals there, more than before,” he said. “We are helping the forest conservative administration to make cages for the animals. Phnom Tamao is under the supervision of Cambodian forest conservative, and we help them there.”

In the US, Marx visited Washington, New York, Denver, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“There are a lot of Cambodian wildlife [specimens] in Phnom Tamao, because the Cambodians confiscated those animals from being traded, then they freed them at Phnom Tamao zoo,” he said. “Phnom Tamao zoo is different from the zoos in some other countries, as Phnom Tamao doesn’t import any animals from the other countries, except the Cambodian wild animals.”

Four veterinarians take care of the animals, he said, many of which are protected.

“In Cambodia now, killing, trapping and catching wild animals is illegal,” he said. “The Cambodian government now strongly protects wild animals. They don’t allow the hunters to kill animals anymore.”