Pret-a-Reporter

Marlon Brando's Private Island Experimenting on Zika Mosquitos

David Liittschwager
Scientists at work in Tetiaroa’s ecostation.

Researchers have been releasing sterilized male mosquitoes, who render females sterile for life after mating with them, on the hideaway since September 2015. Visitors to the ecostation can even release their own sterilized mosquito.

Hollywood hideaways don't get more exclusive than Tetiaroa, the late Marlon Brando’s private island paradise in French Polynesia. And nestled amid the palms is an ecostation carrying out pioneering research, including a program to eradicate the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito.

“Since September 2015, we have been releasing sterilized males,” says Herve Bossin, principal investigator of mosquito research for the Tetiaroa Society (producer Mike Medavoy, a co-executor of Brando’s estate, is a Tetiaroa board member).

“They mate with females and render them sterile for life. We have suppressed the population by 80 percent and will eventually eliminate the species on the island.” Tetiaroa’s environmental programs have caught the attention of climate-conscious celebs (the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation contributed $100,000 last year), and visitors can tour the ecostation and even release a sterilized mosquito.

This story first appeared in the April 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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