While there may not be a “Planet of the Apes” any time soon, there indeed exists an island of the apes, or, to be more precise, an island of “monster” apes that were released from a U.S. testing laboratory.
According to The Sun, the “monster” chimps were all infected with contagious diseases before being “abandoned on the Liberian river island after being released by their captors.”
“The jungle wilderness – known to locals as ‘Monkey Island’ – is now home to more than 60 chimps who are notoriously protective of its shores,” reports the outlet. “Many of the animals are said to be ‘super aggressive’ and those living nearby are terrified to go there for fear of being attacked.”
The apes are occasionally visited by a few brave locals who bring the 60 chimps food, though they rarely exit the boat and even then they are not entirely free of ape violence. In fact, tourists who pay local fisherman to drive them past the island — on the Farmington River — are typically “pelted with mangoes by the territorial chimps.” The apes have earned an almost mythical reputation among the locals, who say the chimps will eat and attack those who set foot on their land.
“They will eat you raw!” one villager warned a journalist.
Security guards warn that any strangers will be met with deadly force. “If you are a strange person when you go there, they become aggressive,” said Jerry, a “security guard” at the island.
Fortunately, the chimps are entirely isolated on the island and will not swim across. “But the only thing, the chimps, they are afraid of water. They don’t swim across. They just walk at the water edge,” said Jerry.
Though the apes have no affiliation with Charlton Heston, they did begin their journey at a U.S. run lab in Liberia. The Sun provided more history:
The chimps were all experimented on at a controversial virus testing laboratory (Vilab) set up by the New York Blood Center (NYBC) in Liberia in 1974.
They were infected with diseases like hepatitis and “river blindness” to help scientists develop vaccines to be used on sick humans.
After more than 40 years of experiments, NYBC ended it’s Liberian project following a campaign by animal activists and the chimps were left on the island with little natural food or water.
Their originals carers, many of whom have worked with the chimps since the 1970s, were paid to take them food and water every other day.
The apes began to starve in 2014 after the Ebola epidemic, which prevented caretakers from visiting the island. The Humane Society then stepped in to take care of the chimps in 2015. By 2017, the NYBC pledged “£5million to pay for their future food and medical needs.”