I was very fortunate to visit Song Saa Private Island earlier this year with Audley, spending three very enjoyable days there experiencing its uber luxury first-hand. Whilst there I also got to know the owners, Rory and Melita Hunter, two young and amiable Australian entrepreneurs who had a vision to take two uninhabited islands off the coast of Cambodia and build the first luxury private island resort in the country’s history.
It was also evident early on to me that they were also fully committed to local conservation and sustainability projects (I had the chance to do their excellent mangrove tour by kayak, as well as visiting a local village to see a project to improve its water quality). So it was no surprise to hear they have recently bought a local zoo to help save the animals which had been held in horrific conditions.
The zoo, called Teuk Chhou, came to Rory and Melita’s attention when they read a Phnom Penh newspaper article; it reported that the 134 animals kept there were enduring terrible suffering due to lack of food, space and very limited or non-existent protection from the elements. Rory said of the situation:
“It was such a heart-wrenching story, Mel and I decided that we were in a unique position to try to do something.”
They did decide to do something and spending up to $8,000 a month from their savings, they bought food and rebuilt the enclosures for the animals. Along with Song Saa’s director of sustainability, Dr Wayne McCallum, they also set up an organisation to run the zoo, called Footprints. Consequently, the animals - many of which are native to Cambodia - are now starting to thrive again.
It’s a heart-warming story and comes as no surprise to me that once again Rory and Mel have stepped up the plate when it comes to ethical and sustainable commitments in Cambodia. As a footnote, if you choose to stay at Song Saa they can also arrange for you to visit the zoo, which is about 1.5 hours drive from Sihanoukville.
Read the full article in The Australian.
Book a tailor-made trip to Cambodia with Audley
Our Cambodia specialists can create a tailor-made trip for you which can include time spent at Song Saa. Call them now on 01993 838 160 or contact us online. Alternatively browse our Cambodian itinerary ideas for a little more inspiration.