Dozens of chimps who were subjected to a life time of invasive procedures in the name of science are now living a comfortable and sheltered lifestyle on private islands along a scenic river.
The 65 chimps are the survivors of a US-funded research project that started with 400 specimens. They were recently released from labs and now live about 34 miles south of Liberia's capital Monrovia.
New York Blood Center (NYBC) funded biomedical research related to hepatitis B and other diseases at a complex by the Farmington River in the country, starting in 1974.
The chimpanzees nearly starved to death during Liberia's brutal civil war between 1989 and 2003, but now, carers prepare about 440lbs (200kg) of food every morning for them, and 264lbs (120 kg) in the afternoon.
NYBC cut funding in 2015, abandoning the apes on the tiny river islands before research staff in the impoverished country took the financial hit of looking after the apes, who cannot be relased into the wild.
Brian Hare, a US-based primatologist who launched a petition against the move, wrote at the time: "Effectively they have left these poor chimpanzees to suffer from dehydration and starvation."
Vet Richard Ssuna said they were "traumatised," and called one ape with a missing arm a "victim of torture".
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The chimp, named Bullet, lost the limb as a infant when poachers killed his mother and ripped him from her arms, before ending up at the research lab.
Mr Ssuna, who is also a director of Humane Society International (HSI), a animal rights group that now looks after the primates, said specialised carers now hurl food towards the chimps twice daily, and have formed bonds with them.
Care will continue until every ape on the islands dies, according to the vet.
Mr Ssuna told AFP: "The future is very bright, as much as we would like to leave them back in the wild. They're in a better place."
NYBC has been contacted for comment.
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