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Don't miss bear Lao

By: Thomas Wanhoff Posted: July-24-2010 in
Bear in Luang Prabang Rescue Centre
Thomas Wanhoff

The average stay of tourists in Luangprabang is 2-3 nights. The common activities are temples (Wats), the old Kings Palace and walking along the Mekong river. But there is another attraction, a bit outside and off the track: The Laos Bears - Luang Prabang Rescue Centre.

It is located at the stunning Tat Kuang Si Park with its beautiful scenery and waterfall, approximately 30 km south of the centre of Luang Prabang. There is a waterfall here, with views across the surrounding countryside and many cool pools that you can swim in.

While people may know the waterfall, not everyone is aware of the nearby bear rescue center. The entrance fee covers the park, the rescue center will not extra charge for a visit. But its a charity organisation and relies in donations - so please support them. There is also merchandising available, shirts and caps and stuff. The centre is supported by Free The Bears Fund Inc.

All the bears here have been confiscated from traffickers and poachers, sometimes arriving at the centre in poor condition. It's the keepers extraordinary efforts that makes the bears living and health condition better once the arrived.

It took a while to settle down for the bears, but after a while they feel comfortable with the new and safe sanctuary.

Asiatic Black Bears numbers are becoming dangerously low in the wild due to the illegal trade for bile and restaurants, as well as the loss of its habitat from human activity.

All the bears have their on story, for example Keo:
He was named after the province in which he was found Keo. He is one of the smaller males and is a little shorter as his growth has been stunted from malnourishment as a youngster. What he lacks in stature, however, he more than makes up for in personality! He has no problem at all with his short legs and is cheeky, confident and pretty smart. If there is something interesting going on or new to check out he’s the first one there, and often the quickest to figure out how to extract food from the new enrichment toys.

What can you do there?
Walk around, watch the bears playing or hanging around. The staff there is speaking Lao and just a bit of English. Best time is around 1pm when the bears get their lunch. Watch how they have to search for the food instead of getting a plate full of fruits.

How to get there?
There are 2 buses a day leaving at 11:30 and 1:30 from Luangprabang, and you can also hire a Tuk Tuk. Diethelm Travel is offering trips as well with a car, guide and upon availability arranging meetings with the rescue center representatives.


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