New Delhi: Remember the cigarette-smoking chimpanzee at a North Korean zoo who became an instant attraction due to the habit? Well, now, an orangutan is making headlines for the same reasons.
The ape, a 22-year-old male, who is a resident of an Indonesian zoo, was recorded on Sunday picking up a cigarette butt that was flicked into its zoo enclosure by a visitor and then puffing away on it like a pro.
The images of the Bornean orangutan named Ozon at the zoo in Bandung, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) southeast of Jakarta, promptly went viral.
This is not the first that a zoo orangutan has been caught sneaking a smoke in Indonesia, which has an abysmal record of animal protection and one of the world’s highest smoking rates.
A Bandung zoo spokesman on Wednesday said that while the incident was regrettable, it has a staff to guard the animal enclosures.
But the officer responsible may have been in the bathroom at the time, he added.
“There’s actually a sign at the location which says visitors are not allowed to give food and cigarettes to the animals,” said spokesman Sulhan, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
Animal activists condemned the visitor’s actions but said it highlighted the poor state of Indonesia’s zoos.
“Weak control by zoo management also needs to be addressed,” said Marison Guciano, founder of the Indonesia Animal Welfare Society.
“But the root of the problem is that we do not have animal welfare standards at zoos. Almost all zoos are in poor condition… from the cages and feeding needs to the animals’ health.”
Last year, activists demanded the closure of Bandung zoo after skeletal sun bears were pictured begging for food from visitors and eating their own dung.