After three years of isolation on a remote island, Ponso the chimp finally received a visitor this year – Estelle Raballand, director of the Chimpanzee Conservation Center. The lonely chimp’s happiness was obvious from his ear-to ear-grin and the way he almost immediately hugged Estelle when she reached out to him.
Ponso’s tragic story began thirty years ago, when he was abandoned off Africa’s Ivory Coast along with 65 other chimpanzees. These chimps, most of which were captured in the wild, were used by the New York Blood Center (NYBC) for hepatitis research. During the testing phase they were reportedly biopsied, anesthetized, and chained by their necks to jungle gyms. After the tests were complete, the lab left the chimps on various remote islands with no natural source of food, occasionally dropping off supplies.