The loneliest chimp in the world just got the best surprise – a hug from a new friend.
Ponso has been by himself for nearly three years, finding himself alone after his wife and children died on the island where they were abandoned by a medical testing company decades ago.
For years a nearby villager named Germain has been Ponso’s only company, visiting him every so often to bring bananas and bread – the chimp’s only source of food on the tiny island.
Ponso, a chimp that has been living by himself on a tiny island for nearly three years, is all smiles when he gets a visit from Estelle Raballand, the director of the Chimpanzee Conservation Center
Ponso, who lost his partner and two children at the end of 2013, immediately embraced Estelle in a huge hug
It was clear how much Ponso missed companionship when he was recently visited by Estelle Raballand, the director of the Chimpanzee Conservation Center, according to The Dodo.
The chimp immediately embraced Estelle in a huge hug and laughed as she reached out for him, his smile from ear to ear.
For those who know Ponso’s backstory, his immediate ease and trust in humans might be surprising.
Ponso was one of 20 chimps, all between the ages of seven to 11 years old, relocated to an island off the Ivory Coast after being used for testing by the New York Blood Center.
Ponso was one of 20 chimps, all between the ages of seven to 11 years old, relocated to an island off the Ivory Coast after being used for testing by the New York Blood Center
Eleven died within months after the relocation and the nine surviving chimps, including Ponso (pictured) and his family, were moved once again
The chimps, many captured from the wild, were used for hepatitis research. They were biopsied, anesthetized and chained by their necks to jungle gyms, according to The Dodo.
After the tests were completed, the lab reportedly transferred the chimps to a string of islands, intermittently dropping off food and water because there was none in the chimps’ new homes.
Eleven died within months after the relocation and the nine surviving chimps were moved once again.
Disease and hunger soon left only Ponso, his mate and their two children standing.
But at the end of 2013 they died within days of each other, and Ponso was now completely alone.
Germain, who had been caring for the entire family, said Ponso helped bury them.
Ponso’s only companionship is Germain (pictured), a villager who brings him banana and bread every so often as the there is no source of natural food on the island
Germain helped Ponso’s entire family, and helped him bury them when they died within days of each other
Although Ponso had long been abandoned, the New York Blood Center was still caring for the 66 chimpanzees long after the testing program ended in 2005.
But in May the NYBC announced it would be withdrawing all support for the chimps because of a breakdown in discussions with the Liberian government, according to The New York Times.
A released statement said there was conflict regarding the government’s own responsibilities for the chimpanzees, with the NYBC noting they had ‘incurred millions of dollars of costs’ for their care.
NYBC also claimed it ‘never had any obligation to care for the chimps, contractual or otherwise’.
The Humane Society of the United States is currently supporting the chimps and trying to raise money for them.
And a group called SOS PONSO is trying to do the same for the poor lonely chimp, already surpassing its goal of €20,000 – all of which will be used for Ponso’s care.
The funds will help provide ‘feeding, enrichments and urgent vet care for Ponso’, according to the GoFundMe page.
Ponso and 19 other chimps were relocated to an island near the Assagny National Park after they were used for testing by the New York Blood Center in 1983
A group called SOS PONSO is trying to do the same for the poor lonely chimp, already raising nearly 18,000 euros on a GoFundMe page