Meet Ponso: The World’s Loneliest Chimp

Credit: E. Raballand

Ivory Coast, Africa — Ponso is a 40-year-old chimp who lives alone on an abandoned island off the Ivory Coast. Over 30 years ago, he and 19 other chimpanzees were help captive by a medical testing company called the the New York Blood Center (NYBC). NYBC used the chimps extensively for hepatitis blood testing. And the chimps were subjected to a daily litany of biopsies and anesthetizations.

Credit: E. Raballand

In 1983, NYBC abruptly lost it’s funding and the testing was stopped. All 20 chimps were hastily relocated and abandoned on a small island off the main land, which had little food and no fresh water. And within months, over half of the chimps had died from starvation and disease. Over time, almost the entire population had died with only one remaining survivor — Ponso. He now lives on the island completely alone, surviving solely on the meager handouts of a local villager named Germain who makes weekly trips to the island to give Ponso food.

Credit: E. Raballand

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