Night at the Zoo

This was the second time I have had the pleasure of staying the night at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, about an hour south of Phnom Penh. I was working to photograph a very long list of species for Wildlife Alliance and as it’s never advisable to drive in the dark in Cambodia I requested to sleep over so I could make an early start. Photographing animals at the zoo is surprisingly tricky, largely because of the damned fences, which invariably ruin most shots.  Some species like the Burmese Pythons are easy enough as they can be taken out of the cage and put in the ideal position, but most are not so straightforward. The tigers always hug the fences checking you out, or the always angry Leopards, which are more interested in trying to kill you (my bag got a good seeing to on one occasion when I left it too close to the fence).

Phnom Tamao also has a couple of Gaur (huge wild cattle) one of which I have photographed several times since he arrived as a calf. Today he is full grown and damned grumpy, apparently he managed to clatter someone recently who climbed over the small outer fence, which is meant to keep the public at a safe distance. There’s a second male Gaur that arrived recently from a zoo in Paris. Upon being released into it’s new enclosure it promptly charged the chain link fence leaving a head shaped dent (with horns) in the fence.

For me the highlight is the night-time. The sounds are just amazing, it’s fun trying to work out what the hell you are listening to. I recognise most from my trips to the jungle but Phnom Tamao also has a couple of non-native species, Lions being the noisiest. It does feel very strange listening to the sounds of the Savannah in South East Asia.




About Allan Michaud

English Wildlife Photographer/Environmental Filmmaker based in Cambodia
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