Thirty years ago, 66 chimpanzees who had been used (and horribly mistreated) by the New York Blood Center for hepatitis research were abandoned on remote islands off Africa's Ivory Coast. One of the chimps, named Ponso, was 10 when he was abandoned on an island with 19 other chimps. Within nine months, 11 of the chimps died, mainly from starvation. They were moved to another island, but most of the chimps died, leaving only Ponso, his mate and their two babies. A man in a village would occasionally drop by to give them chimps bread and bananas, their only source of food.
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Sadly, Ponso's entire family died by the end of 2013, leaving the grief-stricken chimp to a life of isolation on the uninhabited island. Given the traumatic experiences he has faced on account of humans, 40-year-old Ponso's ability to immediately trust and embrace humans is nothing short of remarkable. When Estelle Raballand, director of the Chimpanzee Conservation Center, visited him recently, he was so happy that he actually laughed and wrapped her in a tight hug.
Unfortunately, his joy was short-lived as he had no choice but to return to his life of solitude after his human visitors left. The Humane Society of the United States is currently trying to raise money for Ponso and other chimps abandoned on remote African islands and a group called SOS Ponso has started a crowdfuning campaign that has already surpassed its €20,000 goal. They plan to use this money to provide food and urgent veterinary care for the world's loneliest chimp.
The New York Blood Center announced last May that it would no longer pay to care for the chimpanzees it had experimented on.