Introducing...The Adorable Animals At Our Newest Project - Laos Wildlife Sanctuary!

Introducing...The Adorable Animals At Our Newest Project - Laos Wildlife Sanctuary!

Posted by Demi Georgiou on Jul 25, 2018

As this week marks the launch of our brand-new project, the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary, we thought we would introduce just a few of the incredible species that live here and that were once rescued as a result of the illegal wildlife trade, as well as exploring how the project first began! 

When it comes to the illegal wildlife trade, Laos is a major gateway for smuggling innocent animals in and out of South-East Asia – something which happens on a daily basis. In a bid to help combat this issue and to save these endangered and vulnerable animals, the only zoo in Laos enlisted non-governmental wildlife consultants in early 2015 to form the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary. With the aim to improve the conditions for the wildlife residents in the zoo, as well as to rescue and rehabilitate abused and suffering animals, the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary now provides a happy, safe home for those animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. 

Incredibly, the sanctuary hosts over 500 different animals, ranging from pangolins to sun bears, macaques and slow loris, and even elephants! Take a look below at some of the local residents at the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary and see how far they’ve come since the project first began. 

Missy
Missy Malayan Sun Bear Laos Wildlife Sanctuary

Missy the Malayan sun bear was brought to the sanctuary with a remarkable story - one of which we may never experience again. Missy was being kept illegally as a pet in the centre of Vientiane, the capital of Laos, when she was discovered by a local motorbike group. Aware that her conditions were not good and her future uncertain, they knew that she should be rescued. The bikers acquired her from the owner and set onward to donate the tiny bear to the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary.

In group formation, the bikers made the journey from Vientiane to Ban Keun, where they were greeted by the team. Missy had been carried in a transport cage on the back of a motorbike by one of the members of the group, for the whole 2-hour journey!

Since then, Missy (or as she was known when she arrived, 'Little Miss Vientiane') has gone from strength to strength and is growing up to become a beautiful sub-adult sun bear. She has access to a huge bear park and with a natural diet, climbing structures, swimming pools and daily enrichment, Missy's welfare has been improved tremendously and she will continue her rehabilitation here with the help of the team and dedicated volunteers!

Sii
Sii pig-tailed macaque Laos Wildlife Sanctuary

Sii (which means 4 in Lao) is a big beautiful male pig-tailed macaque. He is one of the sanctuaries most impressive primates, but he also has one of the most tragic pasts...

Sii was kept in a tiny cage which measured just 1.5m long x 1m high, meaning he could barely stand up or stretch out during his captivity. He also was illegally kept as a pet and, like most primates which are kept as pets in Laos, he was fed a grossly inappropriate diet of high sugar, such as sweets and fizzy drinks. He is still reeling from the effects of this poor diet and as a result, Sii has had all 4 of his canines removed as they were rotten and full of infections. In addition to this, his owners sadly used to beat him if he had escaped. Unfortunately, this left poor Sii blind in one eye due to the trauma.

Upon rescue, the team knew Sii would be one of the more challenging cases. He went through an intensive rehabilitation process in which he had to learn macaque social behaviours and even how to climb. He was taught how to eat a more natural diet and now has access to sunlight, grass, swimming and climbing structures for the first time in over 17 years of captivity!

Sii is currently out in one of the Primate Forest enclosures, accompanied by 2 females who act as his companions and social stimulants. When he was released into this enclosure, he was so used to the feeling of concrete that he refused to leave the concrete step of his enclosure. He seemed to be fearful and unnerved by the feeling of grass and it took him about 4 weeks to finally collect the courage to touch grass for the first time. It then took him a further 4 weeks to climb his climbing structures, allowing him to confidently look over his territory.

Sii's final challenge is to have a relaxing swim in the pool that is provided for him at the sanctuary. It's been a long road for Sii, but he will continue to thrive in the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary.

Harry
Harry binturong Laos Wildlife Sanctuary

Harry the binturong is one of many the animals here who was previously a resident of Laos Zoo and has benefited from the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary since the team’s arrival. 

Harry and his 2 companion binturongs, named Micah and Lee, had lived in a small concrete pit for over 17 years on-site. At the time, expertise was not readily available which meant that these animals, unfortunately, were given unsuitable housing, a poor diet, and no enriching items.

In the wild, binturongs spend most of their time climbing in the treetops, catching small mammals and reptiles and using their prehensile tails. They often forage for fruits, shoots and flowers, as well as raiding birds’ nests. When they are not in the trees, they’ll swim in rivers and streams to cool off whilst using their slight-webbed feet to aid their swimming ability.

Knowing their conditions were far from ideal, one of the team members at the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary had a great idea… they decided to use a fenced off area in one of the bear parks as a brand-new binturong enclosure! Although this area has been sectioned off to protect the beautiful old trees from the bears, it was perfect for binturongs. These 3 viverrids now have access to 2 huge, beautiful trees which measure over 100 feet high. They have the opportunity to express natural behaviours by climbing, catching food, swimming in their pool, and sleeping high up in the trees all in the many natural hollows!

This has been one of the team’s most successful stories in the transformation of the Laos Zoo. These courageous binturongs have benefited from what was just one ingenious idea, to something that has now helped to improve their welfare tenfold. Harry, as seen in the picture above, has found his favourite spot in the tree and will live out the rest of his life in this beautiful environment.

If you would like to meet the stars of the show, take a look at our new project (Laos Wildlife Sanctuary) to find out how you can volunteer with some of these incredible animals and aid in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade!


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L E Wright commented 2 months ago
I have just seen a post on Facebook of monkeys being butchered in Laos, leaving a very young one clinging to its dead mother and i hope you can help, its horrific, please help if you can or ask someone who can, thank you.

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Ruby commented 9 months ago
What truly amazing stories of these animals recovery from captivity, thank you to those people dedicating their precious time to help turn these sorrow stories into happy futures.

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