Chimpanze Who Smokes Like a Chimney Is (Unfortunately) Biggest Star at North Korean Zoo
Science| | By Robin Milling
The newest attraction at a zoo in Pyongyang, North Korea is a smoking chimpanzee. Her name is Azalea which in Korean is “Dallae,” and she smokes like a chimney – about a pack a day. Her habit began when her trainer taught the 19-year-old how to light her own cigarette with a lighter, puff on it, and if a lighter isn’t handy she just chain smokes from a lit cigarette tossed her way. However, according to AP News, they insist she doesn’t inhale. Her monkey see, monkey do antics delighted visitors who came to see Azalea puffing away as her trainer encouraged her. She also showed off her other talents like touching her nose, bowing, and doing a little dance. Apparently chimpanzees smoking in zoos has been going on for quite some time. The Surgeon General published a study on the dangers of smoking to humans in 1964 and it hasn’t deterred this trainer. A video taken in 1967 shows a trainer at Paignton Zoo in Devon, U.K. taking a drag and passing it over to 17-year-old chimpanzee Charlie. The trainer enables him with a lit cigarette – teaching him the art of chain-smoking. Charlie bounds off into a corner to enjoy his smoke. You can see his cheeks working hard as he lights a second cigarette from the previous one. There was also a chain-smoking chimp at a zoo in Xinjiang, China who was caught red-handed with two cigarettes – one in its mouth and the other in his hand waiting to light up. World-famous Charlie who lived at Bloemfontein Zoo in South Africa, survived ten years longer than the average captive chimp despite his bad habit. His keepers said that he first started smoking after visitors began throwing lit cigarettes into his enclosure. While it might be amusing for some, animal rights groups are furious about teaching chimps to smoke and took legal action to stop it. The Animal Legal Defense fund, that aims to protect the rights and advance the interests of animals through the legal system, stated that smoking is just as harmful to chimps as it is to humans. They sued an amusement park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where visitors threw lit cigarettes into Candy’s cage for the chimp to smoke. Scientists say the chimpanzee is the closest relative to humans so the baffling question is with millions of people trying to kick the habit, why not stick to teaching our ancestors healthier tricks.