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Why Bear Rescue Center (Tat Kuang Si Park) is special ?
A short walk past the entrance gate, before reaching the pools, is a bear rescue center. A number of Asiatic black bears rescued from poachers and illegal wildlife trade live in an enclosure with lots of trees, swings and other things to play with. From a viewing platform you can observe the animals as they play or search for food.
There is no separate admission fee to the center. The center is supported by the Free the bears Fund, a charity working to protect bears in several Asian countries and to save them from the bear bile farms where they are milked for bear bile used in traditional Chinese medicine. For more information, visit the Free the bears or the Bear Lao website. If you want to support the center, you can buy a T-shirt or make a donation.
What to explore at Bear Rescue Center (Tat Kuang Si Park)?
Swinging in hammocks, playing with tires and generally frolicking in a wonderland made just for the them, the bears at the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre have plenty to be happy about since they were all rescued from poachers looking to harvest their parts.
Operated by Free the Bears, a fund set up to save imperiled ursines across the globe, the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre caters specifically to the Asian black bear. The bile from the black bear's gall bladder is a common component in traditional Chinese medicine, and unfortunately a brutal black market has sprung up around milking the animals for their vital juices. Kept in inhumane conditions, the illegally trapped bears would be repeatedly harvested so long as they could survive in their tiny cages. In addition, the animals are often poached to be used as food or even pets.
Tragic origins aside, the bears at the rescue center lead a fulfilling life in the open enclosures that provide enough space and stimulation to keep the animals happy and healthy.
Visitors to the refuge can stroll along the wooden paths and view the adorable (if grizzly) beasts as they lounge, play and generally look more cuddly than killer. There are also informative signs that inform guests of the plight of the Asian black bear, but even the sad facts can't keep the rescued bears from being utterly heartwarming.
Please Note: There is a small charge to enter Tat Kuang Si park. Free The Bears does not receive any money from the entrance fee and does not make an additional charge for visiting the rescue centre.
How to get to Bear Rescue Center (Tat Kuang Si Park)?
Beautiful Tat Kuang Si is approximately 30 km south of the centre of Luang Prabang - any Jumbo (tuk-tuk) driver will be happy to take you there. There are also 2 buses a day leaving at 11:30 and 1:30, tickets can be booked through most hotels and guesthouses or directly from the office on the riverside on Thanon Khem Khong.