A chimpanzee in North Korea's central zoo became a star overnight for all the wrong reasons. Azalea, the 19-year-old chimp, is a chain-smoker. She has even mastered the art of lighting her own cigarette. Her caretakers do not discourage her from smoking as Azalea's antics seem to have increased the number of visitors.
Officials at Central Zoo, Pyongyang, claim that the chimp does not inhale the smoke. But according to primatologist Frans B.M, de Waal. that might not be the case. "I doubt it, in the same way that I would doubt a human who smokes a lot but says he never inhales," he told The Huffington Post. "Like Bill Clinton."
"Of course, it is as addictive and unhealthy [for primates] as it is for humans," he said.
Calling the exhibit cruel, Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), said animals shouldn't be used for human amusement.
"How cruel to willfully addict a chimpanzee to tobacco for human amusement," Newkirk said in an email to the publication. "Gradually, zoos are learning that spectacles such as chimpanzee tea parties, elephant rides and photo ops with tiger cubs are inappropriate and exploitative. The big question now is why are we keeping wild animals behind bars at all."
The zoo reopened this July after renovations started back in 2014. Besides featuring traditional zoo attractions such as lions, elephants and giraffes, the zoo also has a section where it houses canine breeds such as Shih Tzus, Saint Bernards and German Shepherds. According to The Sun, the zoo even houses a King Charles Spaniel, which was gifted to Kim Jong Un's father Kim Jong Il in 1995 by US company Tapco.