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The Ponso Weekly


January 1 Update

Happy New Year friends! What an incredible year. Nobody thought it could be done but you did it. You brought hope to the hopeless. You came to the rescue of the abandoned chimps and Ponso. Now there’s Nikla. Her world shattered, she’s lost everything. She’s not alone though, she has all of us. With your help, we’ll bring hope to her too. You did the impossible and we’re going to do it again.


Nikla is a teenage female chimp who needs your help. You have the power to help her. Nikla was beaten and badly hurt when she came to eat in a plantation, close to a village in Ivory Coast. Her injuries include a broken right hand that leaves her handicapped. The Abidjan Zoo was called to rescue her or the villagers would have killed her. She was taken to the zoo as there’s no chimp sanctuary in Ivory Coast. An attempt was made to introduce her to Ponso, a lone male chimp living on an island. He rejected her violently and she suffered further injuries on her “good” hand and arm. She had to be returned to the zoo.

Nikla’s conditions must be improved at the zoo. This campaign has two objectives. First – raise funds to improve her enclosure at the zoo. The groundbreaking second objective – care for Nikla until she can be relocated to the first chimp sanctuary in Ivory Coast planned by the NGO Akatia! We seek to raise $5,000 for the following (donation link below):

  1. Improved Holding Facility: A new facility with a cement floor for proper cleaning, a partial roof to give both shade and sunlight, water access, platforms, and a jungle gym. Nikla will be kept in this facility until she can be moved to the planned sanctuary. This facility will then be used as a quarantine area for confiscated chimps or other primates who can be relocated to sanctuary. Please note, the zoo does not capture or purchase chimps. It is doing its best to care for rescued chimps in Ivory Coast who have nowhere else to go.
  2. Improved Kitchen/Vet Clinic: Provide water access with a sink and shelves for the kitchen and storage and equipment for the vet clinic. If funds permit, transport cages will be acquired to transport chimps to the sanctuary.
  3. Relocate Nikla to sanctuary upon its completion in late 2018/early 2019!


Read carefully. Donations go to International Primate Protection League via the link below. Upon entering your info, go to the “Designation” box at the bottom. Select the “other” tab and type in “Nikla Campaign.” You must designate the donation for Nikla in the designation box. Donation Link: https://is.gd/RtlX1r

Donation Information: Donations go to the International Primate Protection League who are a 501C(3) non-profit in the U.S who have graciously agreed to assist. The NGO Akatia will do all improvements at the zoo overseen by Estelle Raballand, the Project Coordinator for Akatia. Akatia Facebook is https://is.gd/CFXNay


We’re not here to criticize the zoo or government. That does NOT help Nikla or the other animals at the zoo. We seek to work together with all parties. The zoo partially serves as a sanctuary for confiscated chimps as there’s nowhere for them to go. There are other chimps at the zoo and this campaign is intended to help them as well by bettering the facilities. Cages are an unfortunate necessity. We dislike cages as much you do but we must work with what is available at present. We do not wish to engage in political discussions regarding zoos. We have one goal – to help Nikla and the other chimps at the Zoo.

December 10 Update

Chimpanzees are amazing and Ponso is a very special chimp. After the failed introduction, Ponso is back to his old self: full of laughter, play and tenderness. Like nothing happened. 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).

December 5 Update

Nikla was transferred into the integration cage on the 3rd of December around 8pm.

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 are 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.

November Update

Ponso’s life is about to change! After a two month wait, we finally have good news. Estelle Raballand, our expert, who arrived on Monday night in Abidjan, meet with the Ministry officials on Tuesday and has secured the agreement to move Nikla with Ponso. She is going to Grand-Lahou (the closest town to Ponso’s island) today to get the integration cage building started.

We are relieved for Ponso and Nikla!

And since one good news is not as good as two good news, we are pleased to announce that Animal Planet/The Dodo will come to Ivory Coast to do a documentary on Nikla’s transfer with Ponso. Stay tune for more information. We will open a new crowdfunding for Nikla and Ponso’s care. At the moment, we have less than 30,000 euros left (Gofundme takes 15% from all donations). We spend in salaries and food close to 1000 euros per month. We started caring for Ponso in August 2015. We couldn’t have done it without you, your support.

We hope you’ll continue to be there for him and Nikla.
Have a great day!

Progress in July

Today it was Junior first time alone with Ponso.

Ponso was a bit surprised at first but he quickly asked Junior for a play session and all was well.

Germain is now seconded by his son, Junior, 28 year old and the father of two daughters (3 years and 9 months old).

The last post was put on the island side by Junior under Ponso’s watch. We had to have the length extended so the post stand high above water.

We are glad the posts are in place. It had been discussed for years by @alexandra Gazel and @krol chi to protect Ponso from human diseases. Now that he is feed twice a day with a balance diet he doesn’t need whatever was given to him by tourist, extra bananas but also soda or bread. Feeding him put him at risk of getting him sick with human pathogens, potentially deadly for him. Today a tourist boat came close and turned around when they saw the post (and us).

Unfortunately it seems that Ponso’s nostril is getting swollen again. It is slight but we are keeping close watch of it and will treat him if it gets bigger.

Estelle will go to Abidjan tomorrow and will continue her work with the zoo, the sanctuary creation but also on getting Ponso to be a better place.

Thank you!

Storms and Signs

The sign boards are finished and were placed today across the island, at each end and along the side.

Ponso wasn’t too happy with us, especially since it was raining and there was some thunder! He displayed and didn’t want us to come ashore. We obviously respected his wishes.

When it rains, he usually stay in trees but we decided to cover his habituation cage with plastic tarp so he’ll have a place to take cover if he wishes.

Junior’s training is ongoing and they are both more comfortable with each other. It was a good experience for Junior to see Ponso mad because of the rain and us trying to put the post. It’s a good reminder for him that Ponso is a wild animal, an adult male chimpanzee and that he has to be vigilant.

Of course he has calmed down and was full of play and kisses.

This coming week, Jim Desmond will met with the Liberian Government. We hope to have some news soon.

Thank you for your unaltered support!

Introducing Junior to Ponso

As we told you we decided to find a helper for Germain since Ponso is still on his island. With two meals a day and the need to go everyday, Germain had no time off.

Germain proposed his son, Junior, who lives with him, across the island during the week. Since it is logical and easier for every one, Junior started at the beginning of the week. He is coming with Estelle Raballand and Germain every day twice a day. Once trained he’ll be hired part time.

Ponso was excited but a bit aggressive at first but over the days, he has calmed down.

They have long grooming session and play time. Estelle and Germain are supervising their interaction to insure that Ponso doesn’t get too excited. Estelle is teaching Junior chimpanzee behavior and how to be with him.

Although Ponso spend a lot of time with Junior (the new person), he is still enjoying Germain and Estelle’s play and grooming session.

She used one of his quiet time to fill his nails since it hadn’t been done since her last visit and they were long (and painful).

Signs were made in the city. The text hasn’t been written yet but should be done by tomorrow. The four boards, forbidding access and explaining Ponso’s situation will be placed on land and around the island.

Thank you for supporting us and for not forgetting Ponso.

Thank you to the French association “Les amis de ponso” and Alexandra Gazel, Presidente

Ponso’s June Update

We were really happy to hear that the NYBC has agreed to pay some of the Liberian abandoned chimps long term care thanks to HSUS lobbying and all the players involved such as Their TurnNew York Blood Center: Do the Right Thing and many others. Unfortunately, Ponso wasn’t included in the settlement and your generosity is all we have to care for him and build him a better future.

Thank you all for your messages and concerns regarding Ponso’s well being and future. We haven’t been posting since we have been waiting on definite answers from the government of Liberia since Estelle Raballand came back from her March visit in Liberia. We still don’t have them.

There are delays that we have no control of and we wish to explain them to you. In Liberia, as we had told you, there is an island that would be suitable for him and a few girls. An introduction and treatment facility could be built prior to his arrival that would allow integration with a few females, provide shelter and where to give him treatment if/when he gets sick.

There are a few points causing the delays:

  • The island belongs to the community. There are on-going talks steered by Conservation International to have this island included in a large conservation/ land management project.
  • The new sanctuary that the Desmonds wish to create for orphan chimpanzees would be located nearby this island but getting these land allocated for conservation is a very long process.
  • The Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue ( a proper chimp sanctuary managed by the Desmonds) isn’t created yet. The Desmonds are caring for over 10 baby chimps confiscated by the authorities in addition to the 65 chimpanzees abandoned by the NYBC. They have their hands full! Their priority is to set up the sanctuary. Without it, they can’t welcome Ponso.
  • Ponso legal status has to be secured and he would have to be under the legal care of this sanctuary and not the government of Liberia.
  • Estelle had requested a certificate of Origin from the Forestry Development Agency when she was in Liberia. Jim Desmond has been following on this request with the Liberian authorities. The person in charge (acting manager) that Estelle had met has changed a few weeks ago. In addition to this change of resource person, a guard was killed in a national park in Liberia, putting Ponso situation in the back burner for the FDA.

So on the Liberia side, we have no other choice than to wait for:

  1. The certificate of origin. Once secured, this certificate will be given to the government of Ivory Coast to request his transfer.
  2. In parallel, we have to wait for the island that would be suitable for Ponso to be part of new conservation/land use project. If purchasing the island is an option, we will do so to speed up the process.

Regarding the situation in Ivory Coast and Ponso current situation. The Ministry of Water and Forestry do not want Ponso leave the country to go to any sanctuary.

Hence there are only two solutions:

  • The Government of Liberia emit the certificate of origin and request his transfer. In this case Ivory Coast will have to accept since Ponso is from Liberia and it’s not a transfer but a rehoming.
  • Ponso will have to stay in Ivory Coast.

Some of you have been asking why we don’t bring a few females on the island to keep him company.

  1. The island is too small for a few chimps
  2. The island belongs to the community (not Germain) and doesn’t have a “protected area” status. Hence there is no long term security for any chimps living on this island. If he had to stay, we would have to change the island status with no certainty that the community that own the island agrees.
  3. Building a shelter/introduction cage on the island would be a very costly, stressful, difficult and unsafe since Ponso is living on the island. There is no way to integrate a new chimp with him without an integration facility.
  4. On going feeding will have to be put in place hence long term management.
  5. Germain is 65 years old and would like to enjoy a bit of retirement. During her next stay in Ivory Coast, Estelle will train an additional person who can care for Ponso part time to relieve Germain sometimes.
  6. There are no adult females available to integrate with Ponso. Integrating a teenager (male or female) or an adult male would be either dangerous for Ponso or too stressful (if they are young). A teenager male will challenge Ponso when he is older.
  7. IF an older female was found and integrated with Ponso, one of them would die before the other, leaving one of them alone again.

For all these reasons (and more), the association have no choice than to:

  • Care for Ponso on the island as best as possible
  • Make Germain’s life a bit easier in any way we can
  • Wait on Liberia authorities and the Desmonds to get the paperwork needed to transfer him to Liberia.

Ivory Coast doesn’t have a chimpanzee sanctuary. There are currently 14 chimpanzees living at the Abidjan zoo (the capital city) in awful condition. The mortality rate at the zoo is very high. Ponso is better off where he is, even alone, than in a small dark cage without proper diet or care.
We are trying to help there as well. Estelle has been helping and providing advice since her first trip to Ivory Coast at the zoo for their primate care. In addition the association has been funding emergency care when needed but so far we have been unable to improve the zoo situation long term for political and logistical reasons.

If the Liberian solution fail, we will have to consider creating a sanctuary. It is a very lengthy process, requiring more than a life time commitment and major source of funding. Ponso will not benefit from this sanctuary for long. Ponso is approximately 45 years old. He still has between 5 to 10 years of good life maybe a few years more but not much more. At the moment, if he gets sick, there are no way to treat him, unless he takes the medicine voluntarily, which isn’t an easy task. Let’s not forget that Ponso is an adult male chimpanzee and even if he is a calm chimp, he is a wild animal potentially deadly to a human being. Getting him to Liberia remains the best option but we are not the leader in this and are dependent on many players.

Thank you for caring about him and your financial support that allows us to care for him, Germain, have Estelle’s expertise and working on long term solution for him.

Please rest assure that we are as impatient as you are.

Estelle will fly to Ivory Coast for a few weeks soon and will provide updates and pictures. As of today, Ponso is in good health and spirit!

Germain Needs Your Help

Germain has been caring for Ponso for years, way before Ponso’s story became known and the SOS PONSO organization was created, using his own funds (little that he had) to care for Ponso. He lives without power across from Ponso’s island in a bamboo hut. He bikes 16 kilometers (over 9 milles) round trip to go to the market for Ponso’s food everyday.

He’d love to have power and a fridge to save him town trips. We think he deserves it. Do you?

It would be a wonderful Christmas present for him. The not-for-profit SOS PONSO pays Germain’s salary and Ponso’s upkeep but a fridge and power isn’t an expense we can afford if we want to build Ponso a new home with other chimps.

If you wish to contribute please DONATE HERE via PayPal.

Thank you very much on their behalf.

Website Launch

SOS Ponso is very happy to finally publish our website dedicated to helping dear Ponso, the world’s loneliest chimp who lives on an isolated island in the West African country, Côte d’Ivoire. Thanks to our new Designer & Digital Consultant, Canadian Ecologist Brad Anthony, we are up and running with a fully functional donation portal directly through to our Les Amis de Ponso Paypal account.

We will publish long-form updates here for Ponso’s supporters and the general public which may end up being more substantial than our short-form social media posts. Please follow our progress and keep supporting Ponso in his struggle to survive despite all odds.

We will not give up!


Get in touch with us!

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