Unfortunately, animal abuse sometimes comes in some very unexpected packages. The hermit country of North Korea (known for it’s many fun things to do) has a zoo in it’s capitol, Pyongyang, where the staff has apparently taught a chimpanzee to smoke cigarettes. Considering cigarettes addictive nature in humans, our extremely closely related friend is likely very hooked on nicotine by now. This is naturally frowned upon by most people and has sparked anger internationally as outside countries continue to report on it.
American news outlets have caught on, NBC, ABC, and other major networks have already reported on this fairly new story. As you could imagine there is a general outrage among the people of all nations it’s been reported in. However there is not much outsiders can do to shift the behavior of such an alienated country.
The chimp? Her name is Azalea, and she is 19 years old, not even to the halfway point of her species average 50-year lifespan. Her life may be cut short on account of her probably being one of the only primates who smokes cigarettes in the entire world.
Azalea, or Dallae in the Korean language, apparently smokes a pack of cigarettes a day, which is actually much more than the average human smoker. She’s a smart chimp and knows how to light cigarettes all by herself and also knows how to put them out once they’ve reached the butt. Hopefully they’ve at least arranged an ashtray for her so she doesn’t litter. No need to teach her two awful habits at the same time.
The reason for this zoo training a chimp to smoke? For entertainment of course.
Primates smoking, through unknown channels, has become Asian trope somehow. It’s hard to believe this happens often but it has undeniably become a strange association of location, species, and behavior. Officials at the zoo have even offered the bogus excuse we’ve all heard in other stories that Azalea “smokes, but doesn’t inhale.” Yeah, we’re not buying it, and hope you aren’t either. I don’t recall Jane Goodall ever mentioning a thing about teaching primates smoke because it’s so much fun, and okay if you don’t breathe in.
At the zoo in question also includes other bizarre attractions, such as a monkey who is decent at basketball, and dogs who can solve math equations using an abacus. Few people probably have quandaries with animals learning math or playing sports, but teaching them to smoke would probably be a few steps too far for most people.
This may not be a case of intentional abuse, but surely has been a very ill-thought out plan to attract customers. Only because we feel obligated to show you, here is a video of Azalea smoking a cigarette:
Since North Korea is a very isolated country and unfriendly to visitors there will probably be little, if any, intervention into the whole situation. What do you think? Is this blatant animal abuse or a just a case of extremely bad judgement? What brand do primates prefer? Let us know what you think in the comments below. While you’re at it, check out this awesome dog who was neglected and abandoned, before he found himself a new home and wonderful people to live his life with.