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Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

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A design illustration for the proposed Angkor Wildlife Zoo and Aquarium. ICM

Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists.

Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the necessary infrastructure for aquatic and wildlife conservation on a 22ha site in Kbon village, Khchas commune in Sotr Nikum district.

Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium general manager Meng Heang said construction began in 2021 with the infrastructure for the display and maintenance of aquatic species (freshwater fish, marine fish and turtles) and terrestrial animals. It is 70 per cent complete.

The ongoing construction also includes enclosures for large wildlife species such as tigers, elephants, small bears, as well as sea and freshwater marine life, and fish from the Amazon river. In addition, the zoo will have a laboratory. The company intends to apply for permits to import eight species, equivalent to 61 wildlife species, said Heang.

“They consist of eight Asian elephants [Elephas maximus], eight Sumatran tigers [Panthera tigris sondaica], five sun bears [Helarctos malayanus], 10 Asian small-clawed otters [Aonyx cinereus], 10 Javan mongooses [Urva javanica], 10 Malayan porcupines [Hystrix brachyuran], five reticulated pythons [Malayopython reticulates] and five Oriental whip snakes [Ahaetulla prasina],” he said.

During a visit to the zoo construction site last week, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon said the project is “very important” and is considered a priority undertaking for Siem Reap, one of the Kingdom’s three economic poles, which has traditionally been driven by its tourism sector.

The zoo is not only for sightseeing but will also be a conservation site for endangered Cambodian wildlife species, some of which are rare.

Additionally, it is a place to educate the younger generation and deepen their knowledge on wildlife.

“We have supported and encouraged the professional team that is building the rest of the infrastructure to complete in time for the inauguration ceremony.

“The zoo must also cooperate with the Forestry Administration and the Fisheries Administration to oversee animal conservation, care and breeding,” he said.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents adviser Ho Vandy told The Post that the tourism sector is centred on culture and nature, therefore choosing Siem Reap as the location for the zoo was a suitable choice.

“This zoo project will be an attractive product and bring more tourists to Siem Reap, especially after Cambodia and neighbouring countries have reopened to tourism,” he said.

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