The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

PBPL 85 Visits Chimpanzee Island

The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class travels to Chimpanzee Island on one of their final days in Liberia and is greeted by a parade.

Former Miss Liberia and YALI fellow, Patrice Daiemole Juah and Professor Wheelan accompany the 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class to Chimpanzee Island in Liberia.

Not knowing what to expect, the 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class travels to Chimpanzee Island in Liberia by way of boat. 

The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class is greeted by chimps on Chimpanzee Island in Liberia.

The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class encounters this sign as they approach Chimpanzee Island in Liberia.

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Today, the students of Public Policy 85 were able to have a serious once-in-a-lifetime experience in Liberia. They were able to venture about an hour out of Monrovia along the coastal road to a beach side village. There, they were greeted by a parade, complete with snare drums, saxophones and many local school children marching and dancing. However, that wasn’t the first unanticipated event of the trip. 

We loaded up into long boats, accompanied by former Miss Liberia and YALI fellow, Patrice Daiemole Juah, and other Liberian friends, and we motored off to Chimpanzee Island. I don’t think we really knew what to expect, which became increasingly apparent as our boat came to a stop about 20 ft off the shore of the river island, right next to the “Danger, Do Not Enter” sign. Almost on cue, our tour guides began howling, and their shrieks were met by chimpanzee counterparts, which emerged from the mangrove forests and stalked toward the shore. Shouting “come, come” the tour guides began throwing plantains onto the banks of the island, and the chimps began walking around and catching the food. They observed us as much as we observed them. After they were full and generally disinterested in us, we rode off the second island, where the same ceremony commenced. This time we were also able to see a baby chimpanzee. 

Chimp Island is a chain of 5 river islands in Liberia where 66 tame chimpanzees used for US medical testing were left after the Blood Center closed their research center in Liberia. The chimps, which had been raised in labs and were not suitable to be released into the wild, were placed on these islands where they receive food and fresh water daily, which is not available naturally on the islands. They have 50 year life spans, and live on these islands indefinitely, as chimps are unable to swim. 

Written by Hannah Pruitt​ '19, a 17F PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership course participant

This is part of a series where student reflect on their experiences during the field research portion of the PBPL 85:Global Policy Leadership course. The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class is conducting two weeks of research in Liberia during the off-campus portion of the course, in order to produce a comprehensive policy memo. During Dartmouth’s winter interim, students meet with local policy leaders: politicians, academics, civil society leaders, journalists, business leaders, diplomats, and other in-country experts who help inform their analyses.

 

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