No butts about cold turkey for orang-utan

Tori the orang-utan smokes a cigarette.  Photo / AP
Tori the orang-utan smokes a cigarette. Photo / AP

An orang-utan who became the star attraction of an Indonesian zoo because of her penchant for puffing on cigarettes will be forced to quit cold turkey.

Visitors began throwing lit smokes into the cage of 15-year-old Tori when she was five and over the years she's developed an addiction, says Centre for Orang-utan Protection conservationist Daniek Hendarto.

"We are working with the zoo's management to try and move her to an island, in a big lake in the middle of the zoo, away from the other orang-utan and where visitors can't toss her any more cigarettes," said Hendarto.

Tori's parents had also been smokers, adding that orang-utans easily mimic human behaviour, including smoking, said Hendarto.

News of the smoking orang-utan spread 10 years ago, attracting more visitors to the Taru Jurug Zoo in the central Javanese city of Solo.

"Until we get approval from the zoo to move her, a guard has been placed outside her cage to make sure she doesn't smoke and she is undergoing therapy.

She will have to go cold turkey," Hendarto said.

Indonesian zoos have drawn international criticism in recent years for their poor treatment of animals.

In March, a giraffe at a zoo in eastern Java was found dead with a 20kg beachball-sized lump of plastic in its stomach from visitors' food wrappers thrown into its pen.

Indonesia has few restrictions placed on marketing of tobacco, and smoking rates have risen sixfold over the past 40 years.

- AAP

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