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Smoking Chimp Passes Away

Charlie ‘the smoking chimp’ died recently at a South African zoo. It has been speculated he adopted the unhealthy habit when he was a circus animal in America, and had been trained to do it to entertain crowds. According to zoo reports, the cause of death was old age; Charlie was fifty-two, a very old age for a captive chimp.

So how does an old captive chimp living in a zoo gain access to cigarettes, and how are they lit for smoking? The answer is zoo visitors who threw lit cigarettes between the bars on the chimp enclosures. Zoo staff tried to stop Charlie from smoking but apparently his hobby/addiction was known well enough some visitors were already prepared to supply him.

It seems especially cruel to throw lit cigarettes inside a wild animal enclosure considering most of the animals don’t smoke, and would likely be stressed by burning objects being thrown into the habitats. Also, Charlie would have had no idea what an addiction is, nor about the side effects of smoking such as lung cancer.

While this might seem like a silly news article, it appears some zoo visitors are completely unaware their behavior could make animals sick or stressed. Encouraging such actions can also trigger behavioral problems in animals. If those chimps develop behavioral problems, they would be singled out for punishment, like being placed in solitary confinement.

A recent article about human and wild animal interactions which resulted in injuries for the people, addressed the problem from the point of view that the animals may have been provoked, yet the animals are still blamed. In one particular case, a wild buffalo charged and ran into a woman. “According to several people who wrote in, it appeared that a stick had been thrown at the buffalo before it attacked. Some say there was already something on the buffalo’s head that it was trying to shake off. The footage also shows a man purposely striding toward the buffalo. It’s clear that the animal was being stressed by what could be construed as aggressive human actions toward it, and it naturally reacted.” (Source:

An incident at a San Francisco Zoo with a tiger, which may have involved taunting and teasing the animal resulted in one patron death, and two other patrons being bitten badly after the tiger somehow escaped its enclosure. Also the animal was put down.

The San Francisco zoo put up a sign sometime later asking patrons not to taunt the animals, throw things inside the enclosures or yell at them — all common sense restraints one would imagine all zoo visitors already know and heed, but as we see this is not the case. Should signs near zoo animals now also indicate lit cigarettes should not be thrown in cages or enclosures?

Image Credit: Delphine Bruyere

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Charlie the Smoking Chimp Dies; Zoo to Keep His Body on Display

Read more: Animal Rights, Nature & Wildlife, Pets, Wildlife, , ,

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2:52PM PST on Feb 2, 2011


6:25PM PST on Dec 31, 2010

My prayers for him to rest in peace

8:38PM PST on Dec 25, 2010

It is bad enough some of us humans have the terrible addition to smoking, now we introduce our critter friends to it as well...The more I read and learn the less I like the human race...wake up folks this is very cruel for the animals.Animals are living and feeling beings.

10:44AM PST on Dec 6, 2010

It is bad enough some of us humans have the terrible addition to smoking, now we introduce our critter friends to it as well...The more I read and learn the less I like the human race...wake up folks - this isn't funny nor entertaining.

7:08PM PST on Nov 27, 2010

I guarantee he would still be alive if he did not smoke. Stop this atrocity!

8:55PM PST on Nov 24, 2010

Thinking of the consequences before one acts.... not a lot of people master that skill!

7:08AM PST on Nov 21, 2010

People are morons. At Cape point the tourists give the baboons cans of beer, cigarettes and junk food. then they take photos of the 'funny' drunk baboons.

5:46AM PST on Nov 16, 2010

This world is just a big concentration camp with the animals as inmates...

8:30AM PST on Nov 12, 2010

It amazes me how stupid people can be.

12:12PM PST on Nov 11, 2010

guess even the angels could not accept this beautiful creation being destroyed so they took him away ... Charlie ‘the smoking chimp’ may his soul rest in peace....

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