Zookeepers at Taru Jurug Zoo in Indonesia are seeking to help a 15-year-old orangutan, Tori, quit smoking. Tori started smoking after visitors threw lit cigarettes in her cage. They have continued to do so they can take photographs of her puffing and exhaling – -something they clearly find amusing instead of disturbing and even abusive.
After determining how smoking has affected Tori’s health, zookeepers plan to first place a mesh cover her cage and to have more volunteers guard her cage. Then they plan to move her to a small island away from the public, with help from the Borneo-based Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP). The island has large trees and rope swings and it is hoped that these will help her get over her habit.
Keepers have tried to lure Tori away from the cigarettes with food and to extinguish the, with water, but to no avail.
Tori’s partner, Didik, does not like her habit and stamps out the lit cigarettes thrown into the cage. Tori is then “said to get irritable and throw things when she cannot get her nicotine fix.”
While calling Tori the dubious title of “Indonesia’s most famous smoking orangutan,” the Guardian notes that her parents were both smokers too. Hardi Baktiantoro of the COP says that many of the zoo’s orangutan’s are thought to be addicted to smoking.
Visitors clearly found the sight of a smoking orangutan amusing but the zoo needed to take more serious measures long ago. Zookeepers in Indonesia have also come under fire for neglect in caring for animals: Two years ago, about 25 of the 4,000 animals (including a Sumatran tiger and an African lion) in Surabaya zoo in East Java were reported to be dying prematurely a month. In March, a 30-year giraffe was found dead with a 39.7 pound ball of plastic in its stomach, from consuming the littler visitors had thrown into its pen.
It all makes you wonder, whose behavior is the most “wild.”
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