Meet the Chimps of Island 5

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Samantha and Sally, close friends on Island 5

Island 5's two oldest chimps are Samantha, estimated to be born in 1976, and Bullet, estimated to be born in 1979. Samantha and Bullet have a long history together, having spent much of their lives in a laboratory cage separated down the middle by bars. The two were able to hear, see, and touch one another, but could not truly be together. Both were born in the wild, only for their families to be killed so they could be taken by poachers and sold. Bullet was hit by the bullet that killed his mother, causing an infection that eventually required his arm to be amputated. He spent some time as a pet before being sold to the laboratory for $150. Samantha was also sold to the lab by a local villager when she was around one and half years old. They both arrived at the lab in the late 1970s and spent nearly three decades being used in invasive research before they were retired to Island 5. Once there, they were finally able to experience the freedom and social companionship that chimpanzees need to thrive. 


Bullet, Samantha, and another resident of Island 5 named Doris are all elderly and treated with respect by the rest of the group. In fact, Bullet was once the alpha male but several years ago he accepted that it was time to hand over the position over to Lolo, an energetic 18-year-old male who had begun to assert his dominance. Lolo does have some competition, though, from 18-year-old Dorvelee. Dorvelee’s mother is Doris, and he has a very soft spot for her and is highly protective of her. Though Lolo is the clear alpha, he sometimes makes the mistake of crossing Samantha. Samantha is considered the matriarch of the group and holds a massive amount of respect. Upsetting her usually results in the entire group rallying around her, and Lolo is still learning how to choose his battles! 


The rest of the group is made up entirely of female chimpanzees, all in their late teens and twenties. Franzisca is quiet and reserved and often seen spending time with Samantha. Ms. Bush is a peaceful and unassuming chimpanzee who was sadly found wandering outside of the laboratory as a baby, likely left there by someone who was keeping her as a pet and no longer wanted her. Though she was used in research, she thankfully did not experience it for long before being retired to Island 5. Chop Suey had a difficult start in life as well. She was born in the lab through the breeding program and suffered through many infections as a baby, including a painful chronic ear infection that left her partially deaf. Things got much better for Chop Suey when she moved to the island, and she is now close friends with Sally. Both Chop Suey and Sally took Mallak, a shy chimpanzee who came to the lab as a baby after being purchased from a hunter, under their wings. Mallak only lived in the lab for one year, and during that time she was paired with Sally, who had just lost a baby. Sally has always been Mallak’s greatest champion – when the high-ranking males would try to steal food from Mallak, Sally would always come to the rescue! These days, Mallak is willing to stick up for herself and doesn't rely on Sally to protect her like she used to, though the two are still very close. Joyce is known as a calming presence on the island and has always trusted and bonded with her caregivers. 

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