Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Center – Democratic Republic of the Congo - Atlas Obscura

Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Center

The world's only facility where orphaned mountain gorillas are cared for.  


Established in 2009, the Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Center in Virunga National Park is the world’s only facility specifically created to care for orphaned mountain gorillas.

While concerted conservation efforts over the last 30 years have brought the population of wild mountain gorillas from a dangerous low of 620 to just over 1,000 today, these beautiful creatures still face extreme threats in their natural habitat straddling the dangerous and unstable border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. That’s where Virunga National Park’s Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Center comes in.

As part of Africa’s oldest national park, the Senkwekwe Center was established in 2009 to care for orphaned mountain gorillas who were victims of wildlife poachers or animal trackers as infants. The Senkwekwe Center, which is named after a family of six mountain gorillas that were brutally murdered in 2007, is a unique sanctuary for these incredibly endangered species to live a full, protected life.  

The Center is managed by Virunga Park rangers and other dedicated staff, who are currently caring for four orphaned gorillas that were injured in snares or lost their family members. It has the rare distinction of being the only place in the world where mountain gorillas have been documented to thrive in captivity.

Know Before You Go

After a series of attacks and kidnappings that led to the deaths of at least 12 park rangers in 2018, Virunga National Park is currently closed to visitors and is not expected to reopen until at least 2019. If you plan on visiting when the park reopens, please contact an experienced and reputable tour company that can ensure your visit is conducted in as safe and reliable a way as possible.

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