Help Ponso the loneliest chimpanzee
Who is Ponso:
Ponso is a 40+ year old male chimpanzee. He was born in Liberia. He was orphaned at a young age and used in viral research, part of the VILAB II project of the New ork Blood Center (NYBC).
In 1983, Ponso and 19 other chimps were relocated to an island, close to Azagny National Park in Ivory Coast. They were between seven and eleven years old. The ultimate goal was to release them but in a few months, 11 had died from lack of care or poaching. Release wasn't an option anymore. The nine survivors (including Ponso) were relocated to a smaller island. Five chimpanzees died shortly after this second move from disease or hunger.
The help that once came from NYBC stopped hence for decades the survival of Ponso and his family depended entirely on the kindness and generosity of a villager, Germain. Only four managed to survive: Ponso, a female and their two offspring.
Almost four years ago, the female and her two offspring got sick and died. Ponso himself was sick for almost a month, according to Germain, but he miraculously survived. Since then, Ponso is alone on this five hectare island which offers no food resources.
Who are we:
SOS Ponso was created by Alexandra Gazel after her visit to Ponso in August 2015. It is a coalition of kindred persons, ATO and CALAO as the associated organization.
Ms Gazel is currently creating a french association "Friends of Ponso" dedicated to help Ponso and act as a recipient for Ponso's fund which will allow us to have a dedicated organization just for him that can provide funds for the rest of his life (at least 20 years).
The association CALAO, based in Luxembourg, is the bank recipient until the "Friends of Ponso" are registered. CALAO was chosen by the coalition (and they agreed, thank you!) because CALAO is providing help to the zoo in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (the country where Ponso lives).
ATO is a sanctuary located in Benin, that rescue and care for primates. It's director Veronique Tessier is one of the kindred being.
One of the kindred being is Laurence Duthu. She created this campaign for Ponso. We are grateful for all she did. She's currently at ATO so she handed the campaign over to the coalition.
Estelle Raballand is the founder and ex director for 15 years of the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in Guinea. She has over 20 years of experience with chimpanzees and has been retained to better Ponso's life and find a long-term solution for him.
How your donations are helping Ponso:
CALAO transfers the funds to an account in Ivory Coast, managed by a franco-american woman, Francoise, who lives in Grand Lahou, close by Ponso's Island. She buys Ponso's food and pay his keeper, Germain. She keeps a close eye on Ponso and provide receipts.
The funds that were already used, were/are to pay for Ponso's food and pay his keeper a salary since August 2015.
Estelle Raballand is going to Ivory Coast in April to do disease testings on him. The trip expenses will be paid thanks to the funds that were collected for Ponso. These tests are necessary to assess his health status and will determine in part his future.
The funds will also be used for his relocation and used to build a facility. Ponso is still young and of course, the funds will also provide for his life long care.
What futur for Ponso:
Ponso is own by the Government of Ivory Coast. Any solutions found for him will have to be approved by the competent authorities in Ivory Coast.
His futur will depends on his tests results since there is too much risks for other chimps, including wild chimpanzees if he is in an endemic country, to contaminate his con-specifics.
If he is negative, there is two possibilities for him in an accredited PASA sanctuary somewhere in Africa, one in West Africa and one in East Africa.
Ponso can't cross border without a CITES permit since he belongs to an endangered specie. He will need an import and export permit given by the authorities in each countries.
If he is positive, moving him to Liberia in a few years, once a proper sanctuary is created, is an option. Most of the chimpanzees abandonned by the NYBC in Liberia, have undergo the same testing protocoles.
Another option, a more costly one, will be to create a sanctuary in Ivory Coast where Ponso and other chimpanzees coming the pet trade or the bush meat trade can be rescued. Our main goal is to better Ponso's life so we are also thinking of an option if Ponso is positive to everything and would be too dangerous to be house with heatly chimps or moved, to create an integration facility on the island and bring one or two females, coming from difficult captivity, vaccinated or positive to the same diseases, to stay with him. In that option, we will create a small sanctuary just for these few chimps.
"Friends of Ponso" president answers to the NYBC statement regarding Ponso's origin:
« NYBC Answer: The chimpanzee nicknamed “Ponso” is unrelated to current issues regarding the Liberian sanctuary. NYBC has no direct information as to whether this is actually a chimpanzee that was part of the research group in Liberia. »
As president of the not-for-profit “les Amis de Ponso “ (Friends Of Ponso) I'm not surprise to see that once again the NEW YORK BLOOD CENTER, via is Q&A on its website, is not recognizing Ponso's origin and the NYBC involvement in his situation, a lone chimpanzee living on an island on the Bandama River, in Grand-Lahou, Ivory Coast.
The not-for-profit « Les amis de Ponso » ' objective is to help Ponso since my first meeting with Germain and Ponso in 2015. I decided to visit them, following articles published in the Ivorian press where Germain was asking for help to feed Ponso and relieve him from his solitude. I was distressed both by Ponso and Germain KOUDIA' situation.
Ponso, a lone male adult chimpanzee on a small island, owned his survival only to a farmer living across the water, Germain, who came every day to feed him with his own funds. Germain explained Ponso's past. A chimpanzee colony was transferred from Liberia at the beginning of the '80s. They were monitored by a German Veterinarian who came every 3 months to “vaccinate” the chimps.
Germain's father had been hired by the Ivorian Authorities to feed this colony that was placed on his island. The long term objective was to release the chimpanzees in the National Park of Azagny, but one day, the veterinarian stopped coming and Germain's father wasn't paid anymore. Nine surviving chimpanzees were still living on the island and Germain's father continued to feed them.
I wanted to confirm Germain's information and research Ponso's origin. Many press articles have allowed us to confirm Germain's information.
The New York Blood Center stated that their objective for the transfer of chimpanzees to Ivory Coast was “to restock the wild chimpanzees population in the national Park of Azagny” (Status survey and Conservation Action Plan for West African Chimpanzees, Rebecca Kormos and al, IUCN/SSC Primate specialist group, 2004).
The original colony coming from Liberia and transferred to Ivory Coast in 1983 included 20 chimpanzees (female-male ratio 50) aged 7 to 11 years old. A few months after their arrival in Ivory Coast, 6 had died and 5 were missing. In the 2004 report, it states that “Two of the original 20 released chimpanzees still survive today in the company of their two off-spring”
These two surviving chimpanzees were Ponso and a female named Crecia and two offsprings, Papu and Mimi. Unfortunately, in December 2013, Crecia, Papu and Mimi passed abruptly in less than 48 hours. To this day, we can only guess their cause of death.
A few old youtube videos shows 4 chimpanzees on the island where Ponso still lives. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KchcODcTpHc)
Attached articles confirm the IUCN report on the situation as well as a letter from the NYBC to Shirley Mc Greal (President of International Primate Protection League, IPPL) dated August 23rd 1983, confirming the transfer of 20 chimpanzees to Ivory Coast close to the National Park of Azagny on August 9th. The transfer and monitoring of this colony was under Dr. Knut Hentschel supervision (the German Veterinarian). The letter also state that 7 births were recorded, including 4 on the island.
In response to the NYBC statement in their Q&A seen on their website, denying their involvement in Ponso' situation and origin, we felt it was important to share the facts and information we have collected that proves the NYBC responsibilities (via VILAB) to Ponso's current situation despite their obvious and outright false denials.
If today, Ponso is well known, it is thanks to individual donations and a worldwide solidarity drive, via the crowdfunding site, Gofundme. Since its creation, the Not-for-profit “"Les Amis de Ponso" has been able to provide three suitable daily feeding to Ponso. Germain is also compensated for his work with Ponso and has been devoting his whole day to Ponso.
A chimpanzee expert, Estelle Raballand, was retained to assess Ponso's health status including his viral status in prevision to his integration with other chimpanzees. She has assessed the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage (CWO) in Zambia, who's offered to re-home Ponso and is collaborating with CWO for his safe transfer to them where he'll be living with other chimpanzees, a necessity for his specie.
We're currently working on and funding a large electrical fence and improvement of an indoor facility at CWO where Ponso will be living with at least two females, both from Ivory Coast since unfortunately Ivory Coast doesn't harbor a chimpanzee sanctuary.
Ponso's situation is looking brighter and we would like to thank everyone who's been supporting our actions. We also want to firmly condemn NYBC carelessness and lack of moral sense towards the chimpanzees they used for years for medical research and discarded in Ivory Coast as well as in Liberia.
Today, individuals are funding the NYBC responsibilities. We are talking about Ponso since he's the only survivor but what about all the chimpanzees that passed or disappeared, or the 9 survivors that were abandoned as well as Germain's father when NYBC stopped coming and providing when the restocking program was canceled? The NYBC can't ignore the facts, let alone deny them.
Thirty years has passed, we can't phantom that the NYBC is sensible to Ponso' situation but we are asking them to recognize their involvement in Ponso' life when asked and remove the false statement in their Q&A stating that Ponso has no relation with the NYBC.
« Les Amis de POnso » , President
Please donate now to help us reach our initial goal of 60,000 €!
For an easy donation, here is a currency converter: www.xe.com
For more information on Ponso:
HSUS are provinding for the 66 chimps in Liberia abandonned by the NYBC like Ponso. They also have a page on go fund me:
You can find Ponso on Facebook (SOS POnso) and also on twitter!
Don't hesitate to check PASA website to learn more about accreditate sanctuaries:
#NYBCdoTheRightThing #NYBC #NYBloodCenter #NewYorkBloodCenter #HowardMilstein #ChristopherHillyer #LaurieGlimcher #MetLife #IBM #GatesFoundation #BillGates #MelindaGates #JaneGoodall #Cipriani #animalwelfare#ATO#Ponso#IvoryCoast#chimpanzee
Introducing Nikla to Ponso was supposed to be a new life for both Ponso and Nikla, but it turned into drama. The report was filmed in Grand Lahou during Nikla ´s integration in the end of 2017. As you Know, our ngo was working with Estelle Raballand who was also working on creating a sanctuary in Ivory Coast. (Ivory Coast need a sanctuary for confiscated, orphaned chimpanzees that are victims of the illegal wildlife trafficking trade).
At this time, Estelle was working on Nikla’s integration. Unfortunately, the processus failed and Nikla was seriously injured but saved by Germain at his own risk : he rushed with the boat to let her go. This was terrible and dangerous for everyone. After that, Germain and Ponso have taken time to regain confidence. Les Amis de Ponso deplored the serious effects of this failure, for Nikla who was beaten, and for Germain and Ponso.
We were all very worried about their relationship because Ponso was very stressed and showed some signs of mistrust against Germain. This situation was very sad for both Germain and Ponso and their so special bond.
Now, the daily life on the island has returned
to normal, far from medias, letting Ponso Germain and Junior in their precious intimacy. Even if Ponso is still alone on his Island, Ponso is happy with his two keepers.
As already said, introducing chimpanzees to each other isn’t a clear science. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Each introduction is different and it depends on the chimpanzee individual history and personality. In this case, according Estelle Raballand’s report on Nikla’s integration, Ponso has showed us very clearly that he likes his life as it is. He doesn’t want to share his island or his keepers attention with another chimpanzee. Considering his age, and the terrible way things turned when Estelle tried to introduce Nikla last year, and except for health reasons, Ponso has his own sanctuary already with the freedom he deserves and will not be moved from his territory.
After this dramatic event, Ponso has come back to his old self: full of laughter, play and tenderness with his too keepers on his territory. He doesn’t feel lonely with Germain and Junior.
Estelle Raballand was relieved but she is worried as the lump inside his nose has kept growing despite a first antibiotic treatment. A different one was started today. Eventually Ponso will need a dentist to remove the cause of the abscess (probably a canine).
As soon as we were done Ponso arrived and checked her out. He seemed interested but also a bit mad. He climbed on the cage and started shaking it like crazy. Nikla was scared and stayed away from him although she did made soothing sound. He kept shaking the cage for close to 30 mins and went to bed on the other side of the island.
Around 5 am Ponso came back to the cage and started to shake it really strongly again. He was trying to break it. Eventually he calmed down and they had a few good interactions through the bars. We were all feeling hopeful but around 8 am although Nikla was showing all the submission signs expected of her, he got really mad. He became increasingly violent and dangerous for her. He wasn't himself and he wasn't calming down.
Estelle assisted by Germain, Junior and Stephanie made the hard decision to remove Nikla from the introduction cage to protect her and stop the integration. It was a difficult operation that took most of the day. If he can't accept Nikla, a teenage female, hence the best match for him, who was also acting appropriately despite her fear, no other chimpanzee could do better.
Today Ponso is calm and back to his old self. Nikla has been resting peacefully all day and slept a lot. It had been a very stressful few days for her.
Introducing chimpanzees to each other isn't a clear science. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Each introduction is different and it depends on the chimpanzee individual history and personality. In this case, Ponso has showed us very clearly that he likes his life as it is. He doesn't want to share his island or his keepers attention with another chimpanzee.
Although we are disappointed for Nikla, whom for now has to go back to the Zoo, we respect his decision. We will continue to care and love Ponso for who he is. Germain and Junior were also sad (and a little mad at him!) but today all is well between these three. Estelle also had a moment with Ponso and there is no more hard feelings.
The future holds good perspective for Nikla as Estelle, under a new local NGO "Akatia" is currently searching for a site where to build a chimpanzee sanctuary. Nikla will have a place there in a social group in forested enclosure. Ponso has his own sanctuary already with the freedom he deserves. He doesn't feel lonely with Germain and Junior's love.
What plans are in place to relocate Ponso to a sanctuary? It is not enough to simply provide him food. He needs to be with other chimps and should not die alone! I want to support you, but you never offer any information as to what the long -term plans are, or even if there are any. He is old now so time is of the essence. As far as I'm concerned, getting him off that island should be your FIRST priority. And in terms of enrichment, giving him a few toys is just not enough... he needs to be with his own kind.
Things are going to change... I believe that we are becoming aware and we are putting in the work to ensure this doesn't happen again.. so keep on sending messages, giving money and being relentless and we will succeed in getting the NYBC to do the right thing.. don't stop
Thank you for the update...........posting signs to stay away.....is that going to alert someone to come there anyway and maybe hurt or kill Ponso??? I pray you can get him off that island and into a sanctuary...why won't the govt. just let him go.......it is only one defenseless animal............
Some of these comments are insensitive and mean! Every thing possible is being done to help Ponso . If it were up to those caring for Ponso he would be in a sanctuary long ago, but its not the case, - In Africa things take much longer to process, . Everything possible is being done to get Ponso to Chimfunshi, its up to th e ivory Coast Government now, they are the ones with the ultimate power as to when Ponso can be moved, In the meantime why don't people give a little to help with Ponso care and move-
Why isn't the Humane Society of the United States funding Ponso's lifetime care as they were awarded $6Million dollars from his former captors New York Blood Center for care of the chimpanzees they captured, bred, experimented on and abandoned. Simply because Ponso is no longer in his home country of Liberia does not mean he should not be part of the benefits being received by the other chimpanzees abandoned. If anything, he needs it more as he is alone and isolated.
Omg. I hope the time has come to be able to move Ponso for his safety... signs aren't going to stop anyone. How did these tourists find out where Ponso is. The govt would be a hero if they let him go to a sanctuary knowing he will be safe and around other chimps.
I saw this story about PONSO and it is a shame that he is left alone,if he does have hepatitus why do you not put the money towards curing him as there is a cure for hepatitus C just on the market going by a program I watched on TV,but I am sure that if asked Monkey World would help him live out his life with his own kind and you could donate the money towards his keep there.I hope everything works out for him.
Tears of joy for Ponso. (et merci encore a Germain et Estelle pour tout que vous avez faire pour Ponso). And, with this note another donation. But, hoping that, with the increasing pressure from this campaign and from former major corporate donors, including Citibank and Metlife, (one of which called NYBC's abdication of its responsibility for the plight of the chimps "deplorable"), NYBC will FINALLY assume their responsibility. Thanks to everyone...it looks like Ponso will have the life he deserves...long live Ponso!
I’m searching for information about Nikla being introduced to the island. The story stops there. I can’t find what happens next. Does anyone know? This is frustrating.