If you care about animal welfare, you should definitely visit the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center. The facility is a sanctuary for moon bears (Asiatic black bears) and sun bears, who were saved from the hands of ruthless farmers. Both types of bears are hunted or bred to harvest their bile. For this purpose, they are locked up in tiny cages and have to endure painful operations and comparable procedures. The bears can survive up to 30 years under these inhumane and disgusting conditions, although many bears die because of the stress or untreated infections. The main reason for the bears misery is the fact that bear bile is an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and especially rich Chinese are willing to pay a lot of money for it.
A big problem is that while bear hunting is prohibited in many Asian countries, bear farming (under certain conditions) isn’t. And even if there are laws to protect bears, they’re often not really implemented. In China alone there are around 70 farms with an estimated at least 10,000 bears. We know this is a very sad topic and it hurts us to write about it. However, we think it’s important to raise awareness, so people know what’s actually going on. Fortunately, there are facilities in Laos that are committed to animal welfare and the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre is one of them. For this reason, you should definitely visit and support the bear protection center.
What you can see and do in the bear sanctuary
The Luang Prabang Bear Sanctuary has two purposes. One is to save bile bears from captivity and provide them a better life. One is to educate locals and tourists about their cruel fate. In order to achieve the educational purpose, information boards are available throughout the facility. As you can see in this pictures, in order to reach as many people as possible, the information is written in several languages (English, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Lao). They even have one of those cages, where the farmers keep the bears. You can even squeeze yourself in, so that you can roughly imagine how terrible the fate of these animals must be. It’s really terrible how tiny the cage is.
Of course, you can also see real bears in a natural environment. At least if you’re lucky enough and they should be around. We were lucky and even had the chance to make a video of a bear playing around. His name is Deng and look how happy he is. Unbelievable that there are humans torturing these beautifuls animals for their bile. Luckily there are others too, who try to protect them and give them a life worth living.
How to support the work of the rescue centre
The facility is really exemplary and there are only a few comparable institutions for rescued animals in Laos. One of them would be the Vientiane Zoo. However, there’s no denying that financial resources are limited. Therefore, the bear protection center can use any financial support. If you want to help the bears, you can either donate directly or buy something in the souvenir shop (for example a shirt). The proceeds will go to the protection center.
How to get to the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre
Since the bear protection center is located directly at the Kuang Si Falls, you can easily combine both activities. Just tell a tuk tuk that you want to go to the waterfall. This also means that you don’t have to pay any additional entrance fee. The entrance is already included in the ticket for the waterfall.
Since the facility is in close proximity to the Kuang Si Waterfall, the opening times are the same. The Luang Prabang Bear Sanctuary opens daily from 8 am until 5 pm. The only exception is Tuesday. On this day, it doesn’t open until 9 am.