An Asian black bear, which was being held as a pet, was removed on Friday from a tycoon’s private property in Battambang’s Phnom Proek district by the Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team and Forestry Administration and Military Police officials.
A staffer with the Wildlife Alliance yesterday said officials went to the property of the tycoon, whom he identified as “Sin Kaim”, on Thursday to sedate the female bear, who was then transported to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre on Friday.
He said Wildlife Alliance informants became aware of the property, which is also home to three tigers, about a year and a half ago. Even though it is illegal for people to keep wildlife as pets in Cambodia, the owner had been allowed to keep the animals due to a lack of resources on the government’s end, he said.
“We, the Wildlife Alliance, and the government could not afford to have these animals transferred,” he said, adding that an agreement was reached for the owner to continue to care for the animals.
However, the owner recently requested to have the bear removed from his property. The tigers remain on the property, where there is also a crocodile farm, the staffer said. Wildlife Alliance staffers check on the animals at least once a month.
Forestry Administration official Heng Kimchhay confirmed the government “didn’t have the budget to take care of the animal”, but said the owner had a licence to have wildlife animals at his private property.
That claim was, however, disputed by the Wildlife Alliance staffer, who said the owner was never able to provide proof of proper documentation from the government regarding the bear and the tigers.
Nick Marx, director of Wildlife Rescue and Care at the Wildlife Alliance, said officials “prefer for people not to have wildlife animals as pets”.