In Monkeys As In People, Addiction Is A Product Of Bad Company

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Despite the claims of Zoo keepers, a smoking addiction of an orangutang in an Indonesian Zoo could not have been an ‘accident’:

Fifteen-year-old Tori started smoking after visitors threw lit cigarettes into her enclosure at the zoo in Surakarta, the German Press Agency reported.

According to reports, she mimicked the behaviour of humans, casually holding the cigarette between her fingers and flicking ash on the ground.

“She was sent to the private island so that smoking zoo visitors won’t be able to throw cigarettes at her,” zoo director Lilik Kristianto told the German Press Agency.

Tori is now in permanent exile on a small island in the middle of a lake with her 16-year-old boyfriend, Didik, Mr Kristianto said.’

The claims made in the article above are simply nonsense. A primate would not have become addicted to smoking in a Zoo without at least a passive encouragement from the Zoo staff. More likely, it is one or mome rogue members of the Zoo staff that have (perhaps thinking it funny) assisted the monkey in obtaining the smoking implements.

The Zoo’s desire to move the orangutan out is probably a silent admission that the ‘social environment’ is to blame for this addiction.

They say the best way to break addiction is to break away from the peer group. That is as much true for apes as it is for humans. At least I am glad to see that the staff have chosen to maintain Tori’s family group connection. An addict needs their family support. Even if that addict is an orangutan.

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

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