The reclusive ape left abandoned on a rainforest island, the discarded victim of animal medical testing, has formed an incredible bond with the woman determined to find him enduring sanctuary.
The Express reports,
For more than 30 years, Ponso has lived a solitary life on the small riverine island where he was dropped off with a consignment of laboratory chimpanzees no longer wanted for testing.
As his counterparts died off, Ponso achieved worldwide fame as the planet’s loneliest chimpanzee.
Ape expert Estelle Raballand, founder of the Chimpanzee Conservation Center (CCC), has made it her mission to rescue Ponso from isolation and these uplifiting scenes from a new Dodo Heroes documentary on the Animal Planet channel show how they have struck up an incredible friendship.
As soon as she arrives on his small island in the Ivory Coast, Ponso is there to greet her with a warm hug and hand of friendship.
Estelle pays regular visits to see the chimpanzee, to check his health and ensure he gets his vitamins.
Ponso probably sees me as a sister or something, says Estelle as she cradles the 40 year old powerful ape in her arms. For his age, he’s like a Peter Pan. He’s really young in his mind.
A few tickles to the tummy see him rolling around, giggling with joy.
He gives a lot of love and attention, says Estelle as she asks him for kiss only for the mischievous chimp to present her with an intimate look of his bottom followed by the closest thing in the Animal Kingdom to laughter.
For all the merriment, there is a serious side to to Estelle’s mission. She dreams of finding a permanent sanctuary for Africa’s critically endangered chimpanzees who have found themselves refugees from their forest wildernesses.
Along the way, she also wants to find Ponso a companion and thinks a young rescued chimpanzee called Nikla living in the National Zoo in the Ivorian economic capital of Abidjan is the perfect candidates.