Ponso, a 40-year-old former lab chimp, has been living all alone for years on an island off of the Ivory coast after he was dumped by a medical testing organization and left to die.
It was reported that Ponso was one of 20 chimps, all between the ages of seven to 11 years old, that were captured by the New York Blood Center (NYBC) more than 30 years ago for hepatitis research. They were forced to live in small cages, biopsied, anesthetized and chained by their necks to their enclosures. When the NYBC no longer needed them for testing, they moved the chimps to a string of islands. The lab would occasionally drop off food and water, since there was none on the island, but nearly all of the chimps died within months after the relocation. Ponso and his family survived the move to the island, but his mate and two children all died within days of each other in 2013, leaving Ponso all alone.
The chimp has managed to survive on his own thanks to the kindness of one villager named Germaine, who visits him to bring him bananas and bread. Ponso is also getting help from a coalition of animal welfare organizations which support his care. One of those organizations is the Chimpanzee Conservation Center.
Upon her arrival, it was clear that friendship is the one thing Ponso misses the most in his miserable life. When Estelle reached out to him, he immediately embraced her in a big hug and laughed with a big smile on his face. After how terribly humans have treated him, no one would blame him for being untrusting of people. However, Ponso hasn’t let his past affect the gratitude he has for those who show him kindness, like Germaine and Estelle.
A group called SOS PONSO is currently trying to raise money for Ponso’s care, including providing food and enrichment, according to the GoFundMe page, which has already surpassed its goal.
Sadly, Ponso isn’t the only one in need. In May 2015, the NYBC announced it would withdraw its support for all of the 66 chimpanzees it has used for testing and then abandoned on the islands due to a breakdown in discussions with the Liberian government. These animals have been left to starve. To help these unfortunate primates, the Humane Society of the United States is currently supporting the chimps and trying to raise money for them. You can support their efforts here.