Chain-smoking orangutan put in quarantine
Summary of story from The Pioneer, September 12, 2011
A captive orangutan who became a chain smoker after zoo visitors offered her lit cigarettes over a period of time is being quarantined to force her to kick the habit.
Government authorities seized the animal, named Shirley, from a state-run zoo in Johar last week after her health deteriorated.
She was found to be suffering from extreme “mood swings”, local media reports said.
“Shirley was not a smoker but became an addict after mimicking zoo visitors,” the keeper said. She is now being moved to nearby Malacca Zoo to force her to quit the habit.
Her condition came to light when a British-based nature activist group wrote to Malaysian officials saying they had visited the zoo and found people throwing lit butts at Shirley to photograph her smoking it.
The group said they saw Shirley going through extreme mood swings, looking drowsy and on other occasions appearing very agitated without a cigarette.
It is not clear when Shirley picked up smoking. Officials have estimated her age as 20 and Orangutans, native to rain-forests in Borneo, are estimated to live up to 60 years in captivity.
Some other countries like South Africa and Russia have also reported primates learning to smoke after zoo visitors tossed lit cigarettes into the cages of chimpanzees.