Sunday, 23 October 2016

Chimpanzee seen smoking at North Korea's reopened zoo

Spectacle seemed to delight visitors but zoo has been criticised in the past for keeping animals in ‘woefully inadequate’ conditions

Staff and agencies
Wednesday 19 October 2016 16.00 BST Last modified on Wednesday 19 October 2016 17.34 BST 

Visitors to a newly reopened zoo in North Korea have been flocking to a new attraction: a smoking chimpanzee.

According to officials at the Central zoo in Pyongyang, which has been criticised for animal cruelty in the past, the 19-year-old female chimpanzee Azalea, Dallae in Korean, smokes a pack a day. 

The chimpanzee can use a lighter to light her own cigarettes, or spark up from a lit cigarette. The zoo has insisted, however, that she does not inhale.

The spectacle, which would shock animal rights campaigners, made visitors roar with laughter on Wednesday as the chimpanzee sat puffing away. Her trainer seemed to be encouraging the smoking and prompted her to touch her nose, bow thank you and do a simple dance.

The zoo is pulling in thousands of visitors a day to see attractions ranging from elephants, giraffes, penguins and monkeys to a hi-tech natural history museum.

NK News reported North Korea has stocked the zoo with animals from all over the world, with many of the deals being called into question by animal rights campaigners. The zoo has also been criticised in the past for keeping animals in “woefully inadequate” conditions.

Renovations at the zoo began in 2014 as part of efforts by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to create leisure centres around the capital.

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