Sunday, March 25, 2012

grin and bear it


A rambunctious Malayan sun bear cub at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Cambodia.  (2011).  This little guy bit me!  Fortunately, it was all in good fun.  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.

***
"AUGGGGGHHH!! THERE'S A BEAR BITING MY LEG!" I exclaimed.

Because well, see, there was this bear, biting my leg.

Fortunately, the Malayan sun bear cub was just playing and refrained from piercing any skin, presumably thinking my calf was nothing more than a new, fun chew toy. Unfortunately, the batteries in Kim's camera had run dry and I didn't have the presence of mind to snap a picture (because I had a bear attached to my leg!), so we have no documentary footage of the two bearkeepers wrestling the rambunctious little guy off of me.  Somewhere, the editor was laughing.

We were volunteer bear keepers for a day at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, on a program put together by Free the Bears, an Australian-based NGO.  It had been a good day.  In the rapidly developing country of Cambodia, it's not surprising that nature and wildlife aren't at the forefront of most people's considerations .... but it was nice to see the friendly folks at centre doing their part, trying to raise awareness.  And from the looks of it, I think the rescued bears appreciated it, too.

The day before had also been a good day, though markedly different.  From the back of dusty tuk-tuk, Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, was a frenetic mess of motorcycles, population, and atmosphere.  It was a shock to the system after the isolated silence of Vietnam's Con Dao Islands, but who could really blame Phnom Penh for this?  It wasn't long ago that crazed dictator Pol Pot razed a nation and murdered a generation, so frantically making up for lost time was, quite frankly, overdue.

Back at homebase in the lobby of the newly opened Royal Mekong Boutique Hotel, the lodging's Minnesota-educated owner mused about how it was just nice to be able to work for himself.  His attentive staff bespoke of what was perhaps the most incredible enduring quality of Phnom Penh: even with the burden of heartache, the people here were friendlier than most.

This bodes well for the future.   


A couple of Malayan sun bears (Ursus malayanus) taking a dip in the pool on a hot, sunshiny day.  Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, Cambodia. (2011).  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.


If I didn't know any better, I'd say that this Malayan sun bear was grinning.  Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, Cambodia. (2011).  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.


Pesei, our terrific guide from Free the Bears, with a baby from the local village.  Phnom Tamao, Cambodia.  (2011). Phnom Tamao Wildlife Centre, Cambodia. (2011).  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.


The bustling streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  (2011).   Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.


On the grounds of the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.  Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  (2011).  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: Lumix G 14mm f2.5 ASPH Pancake.


Dreamspace.  Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  (2011).  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: Lumix G 20mm f1.7 ASPH.


A child portrait.  Choeung Ek, Cambodia.  (2011).  After a visit to the haunting Killing Fields of Cheoung Ek - one of the most brutal backdrops of the Khmer Rouge's atrocious regime - it was nice to watch the children laugh and play.  The human spirit prevails again over the oppression and ideology.  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: Lumix G 20mm f1.7 ASPH.


George, an adorable sun bear.  Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, Cambodia.  (2011).  George was rescued from poachers who had treated him badly.  At the sight of humans, he still sucks on his foot as a security blanket.  The more you watch bears, the more you swear that they are part human.  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.

No comments:

Post a Comment