A chimpanzee trained to smoke cigarettes has been rescued from a zoo in Lebanon and is being sent to a sanctuary in Brazil.
The chimpanzee is named Omega, and originally learned to smoke as entertainment for customers at a restaurant, then after being moved to a zoo, he continued because visitors would throw cigarettes into his cage.
Animals Lebanon is the group responsible for rescuing Omega. They also helped to find all of the other animals alternate homes and worked with the owner to close the zoo.
Omega is 12 years old and has spent his whole life around humans. He has never climbed trees or spent time around other chimps. His life at the sanctuary will be his first experience living as a true chimpanzee.
Lebanon has almost no laws on the books to protect animals, and this situation illustrates the worst aspects of so-called animal “entertainment”. An animal removed from his natural environment, addicted to a man-made poisonous product, and trained to slowly kill himself for the amusement of onlookers.
We may think zoos in America or Europe are different, but the nature of the situation remains the same. When we stop thinking of animals as sentient living beings and start thinking of them as objects created for our amusement, it’s a slippery slope and before we know it, we’re addicting them to poisonous chemicals.
The solution to problems like this isn’t trying to increase the welfare of animals in zoos, or trying to tighten restrictions on animal treatment. The solution is to end all animal entertainment, zoos, circuses, rodeos, bullfights and every other industry that tortures, isolates and kills animals.
Animals do not exist for our entertainment any more than they exist for our consumption. As long as we continue to support the industries that exploit animals, they will continue to exploit animals.
The next time you consider visiting a zoo, think about Omega and wonder if the caretakers at the zoo, the visitors, and the owner of your zoo wouldn’t be doing the same thing to their animals if they could make a decent profit from it and get away with it. We’ve seen time and time again that people who operate zoos don’t care about the lives of their animals.
Go vegan, boycott zoos, circuses, and every other industry that exploits animals for profit. You can make a difference if you choose to.