The center was established for the rehabilitation of confiscated, orphans and abandoned chimpanzees. Located just outside Freetown, in the Western Area Peninsula National Park, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary provides guided tour in a unique context, a forest enclosures, where is possible to see chimpanzees up close.
The sanctuary was founded in 1995 by Bala and Sharmila Amarasekaran. Starting in the late 1980s, the husband-and-wife conservationist team had worked with primatologist Rosalind Alp to gather data on chimpanzees in the pet trade in Sierra Leone. Even after being rescued, many of the primates who had spent time as pets could not be returned to wild, which led to the idea for a chimpanzee sanctuary. When it first opened, there were five chimpanzees: Bruno, Julie, Charlie Boy, Philip, and Augustine.
Since then, Tacugama has grown into a large and diverse organization. In addition to caring for nearly 100 chimpanzees on-site, the sanctuary is involved in community outreach, field research, and conservation education. Tacaguma even kept to work during Sierra Leone’s civil war, which ended in 2002. Tacaguma helps monitor the country’s chimpanzee population, and once hosted the only documented albino chimpanzee.
The center also has several eco-lodges (without electricity) where visitors can spend the night.