Volunteer at our Sanctuaries
Volunteering at Free the Bears sanctuaries offers an amazing & unique opportunity to join our experienced team and look after sun & moon bears rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.
What will I be doing?
You'll be helping our local bear care team look after rescued bears and maintain the sanctuary. Your physical and financial contribution allows us to grow, develop and improve, year after year!
- Food preparation & distribution
- Providing sensory enrichment
- Assisting keepers in cleaning of forest enclosures and bear dens
- Creating/repairing bear hammocks.
- General maintenance & improvement to the center i.e. painting, sanding, repairs & gardening
Does it cost anything?
A fee is charged to cover general expenses including accommodation, meals and volunteer programme costs. In addition, a portion of the fee goes towards bear care at that sanctuary i.e. if you are volunteering in Cambodia, you'll help support the care of over 100 rescued bears! Fees vary slightly between countries to reflect local costs.
Each of our sanctuaries is gorgeous and yet uniquely different in their setting.
CAMBODIA: Cambodia Bear Sanctuary, Phnom Tamao
Free the Bears Cambodia is located within the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, home to over 1,200 animals of many different species, rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. It is the largest sun bear sanctuary in the world! Located one hour outside of the bustling city of Phnom Penh, you'll stay in a comfortable house just outside of the sanctuary.
With volunteer placements ranging from 3 days to 8+ weeks, there's an option for everyone. After volunteering you can explore Cambodia's famous Angkor Wat temples or take a trip to the mountains or beach in no time at all.
LAOS: Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre
Located one hour from Luang Prabang inside the Tat Kuang Si National Park and adjacent to the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls, Free the Bears Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre has over 30 rescued moon bears in a rainforest setting. You'll stay in a bungalow overlooking the forest and falls. On Fridays volunteers move to our multi-species Luang Prabang Wildlife Sanctuary for the day to meet the animals & help out.
In the surrounding village there is a butterfly park and several local restaurants. After volunteering you can explore the beautiful world heritage listed town of Luang Prabang, visit mountain villages or cruise the Mekong!
VIETNAM: Cat Tien Bear Sanctuary
Our sanctuary is located inside the Cat Tien National Park, a nature lovers paradise and home to an array of local wildlife including many endangered species of mammals, primates, reptiles, birds and fish (it's astonishing how many wild animals you can see). Cat Tien is also home to an incredible 1,610 botanical species of plants! You'll stay in bungalows on the river facing the park.
The park authority is focused on forest protection and management as well as education and helping local communities, and offers several eco-tours you can take after volunteering.
They all sound amazing! How do I choose?
As each sanctuary is uniquely different, making a decision as to which sanctuary and country to visit isn't an easy task. Don't worry - whichever you choose, you're sure to have a fabulous experience.
Volunteer Facilities: Encompasses living arrangements, supplies and amenities provided onsite for volunteers. Sanctuary info packs provide more on this.
Self-reliance: In Vietnam and Laos volunteers have evenings to themselves and can safely explore the surrounding village if they choose. In Cambodia we enjoy our evenings together at the volunteer house.
Independent Planning: In Cambodia and Laos we have a set pick-up and drop-off (from Phnom Penh and Luang Prabang). In Vietnam you will need to travel to Cat Tien National Park. Our team can assist in arranging transfers, provide local transport information and will be available to contact whilst on route to the sanctuary.
Access to amenities and entertainment: Refers to weekend activities – shopping, restaurants (vegan and vegetarian options), nightlife, local attractions, points of interest and ecotourism opportunities.
Things to note:
We have a minimum volunteer age of 18 (exceptions considered for students or those with experience in wildlife/conservation)
You will undertake physical activities in a tropical climate - a good level of health is required
You will work closely with the bears however for your safety and their welfare there will be no direct contact
No experience in wild animal care is required - just be willing and enthusiastic with a strong interest in conservation and wildlife
Do you have a research programme for students?
In Cambodia we offer research projects to students who are currently studying and have access to a project supervisor. Please ask for a copy of our research prospectus when enquiring if you are interested.
Do you offer veterinary/vet nurse placements or volunteering?
Currently we do not have veterinary or vet nurse volunteer placements available as we are focused on local capacity building. If you would like to send us an expression of interest for any opportunities that may arise you can email us with a copy of your CV.
For more information and an application form, please email us here.