ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

Vice teamed up with the creators of [Dawn of the Planet of the Apes](movie:322904) to bring us the emotional true story of a group of chimpanzees who were used for experiments...until they took of the island. Referred to as "the Disneyland of infectious disease" by the documentary filmmakers and "Monkey Island" by locals, the island on the western coast of Liberia is an amazing sight to behold.

Watch the full documentary and read on to discover the many parallels to the Planet of the Apes films as well as the real event that is just as gripping as any of the movies.

Here's a breakdown of what we learned:

General consensus from local Liberians is that the monkeys will eat any intruders raw

So maybe not the smartest future vacation destination for those of you planning.

Like the aliens in Signs, however, these chimps have one fatal flaw

Further proof that everything has its kryptonite.

The chimps that greet the group look pretty friendly!

The one on the left even smirks like Natalie Dormer! How bad could they be?

Until the Alpha Male (who is pretty much Caesar) immediately charges the group

He's none too happy about the human intruders (maybe he's more like Koba?).

Luckily, the chimps seem to REALLY like free food

Enough to ensure this guy doesn't get mauled and consumed.

The origins of the island go back to the 1974, when the New York Blood Center launched the Liberian Insititute for Biomedical Research

Over 100 chimps were deliberately infected with diseases like Hepatitis at Vilab. Chimps were chosen because, other than humans, they are the only species susceptible to Hepititas. Once infected, the researchers would release the infected chimps onto an island to have them interact with uninfected chimps.

In 1989, Liberia began the first of two extremely violent civil wars

Betsy, the director of the center, continued her research through this period, proclaiming, "if they came to shoot the chimps, I stood in front of the cage." She thought if they stayed there they could keep the chimps alive and keep the employees unharmed. Sadly, she witnessed her husband get murdered in 1993 but chose to stay and continue her work.

Despite two civil wars, what closed the lab was actually changing public opinion of animal testing

PETA's anti-testing videos of facilities with much harsher practices eventually closed the facility in 2005.

Betsy's research developed a treatment for Hepititis B and a screening test for Heptitis C

BUT, like James Franco's character in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, she came to think that chimps should not be used in experiments. She now believes that, if research is necessary, then they should have a place to go afterwards, where they can live a "nice chimp life."

Which is exactly what Monkey Island is

Since the facility has closed, trained Liberians continues to provide the chimps with food. There are now over sixty chimps on the island.

Happily, most of the chimps have recovered from the testing

So, let's just hope they don't acquire speech or learn how to use a machine gun any time soon. We may have quite a bit of mistreatment to answer for.

So, there you have it, the real life Planet of the Apes is entirely (and appropriately) manmade, but at least it's now safe and thriving. How did this true story make you feel about the the most recent movies? Are you sympathizing with Caesar's tribe even more?


Did this documentary make you view the 'Planet of the Apes' movies in a new light?


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