The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening.

The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas commune, Sotr Nikum district, Siem Reap province about 7km northwest of Damdek village, where the road intersects with National Road 64.

Sotr Nikum district governor Mak Bros told The Post on September 19 that the Japanese- and US-invested Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium was created as a “world-class entertainment venue” for “visitors from everywhere” that creates jobs for locals and contributes to economic growth in the district and nationwide.

Slated to be developed in three phases, the park will feature “rare” fish and other animals, and strengthen Siem Reap province’s prestige as home to an abundant and diverse range of travel hotspots, he said.

“By virtue of this project, I expect more national and international tourists to visit Sotr Nikum district – a place to see a rich assemblage of fauna,” Bros added.

Bros said that he had met with Meng Hieng, who he mentioned was a co-owner of the project, and that Hieng revealed that at least one residential area, man-made creeks and other nature-related attractions are in the pipeline for Phase II, with a “luxury hotel” planned for Phase III.

Hieng also called on residents in the area to plant more fruits and vegetables to supply to the complex, which are to be used for refreshments for guests, according to Bros.

Following a visit to the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium, Tieng Eng, the wife of Siem Reap provincial governor Tea Seiha, on September 17 wrote on social media that the complex boasts Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) weighing more than 100kg and other “large, uniquely shaped” freshwater fish of Southeast Asia’s longest river.

Remarking on the grandeur of the aquarium, she said: “Don’t be disoriented into thinking that you’re abroad ladies and gentlemen, this is a world-class aquarium park. It’s scheduled to open at the end of October 2022 in Siem Reap – bringing in more tourists – in the company of the Angkor temples.”

Hieng, who is also general manager of the complex’s associated company Angkor Wildlife & Aquarium Co Ltd, could not be reached for comment on September 19.

However, he said in June that the park would include 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.

“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 brachyura], five reticulated pythons [Malayopython reticulatus] and five Oriental whip snakes [Ahaetulla prasina],” Hieng said then.

He revealed that the complex would also have a laboratory.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon previously commented that 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 rare or endangered Cambodian wildlife species, he said, adding that the park would also educate the younger generation and deepen their knowledge on wildlife.

According to the Ministry of Commerce’s business registry, Angkor Wildlife & Aquarium Co Ltd was incorporated on November 6, 2018.

The registry lists Hieng as the company’s chairman, with a Phnom Penh postal registered office address, as well as “Nathan Roger Reynolds”, “Roger Rensch Reynolds III”, “Lau Sok Huy” and “Takuya Higuchi” as directors, with addresses in Hong Kong, the US, Phnom Penh, and Tokyo, respectively.