Orangutan at Indonesia zoo seeking rehab for smoking addiction

Solo — Indonesian zookeepers have finally moved an orangutan out of zoo visitors’ view so she’ll no longer smoke lit cigarettes people regularly throw into her cage.

Taru Jurug Zoo spokesman Daniek Hendarto said on Wednesday the smoking Tori and her male companion, Didik, were moved to a small island within the zoo. There are four endangered orangutans at the zoo in the Central Java town of Solo.

“One of zoo problems in Indonesia is the visitors tease the animals,” said Lilik Kristianto, the Director of Taru Jurug zoo in a statement.

The 15-year-old Tori has been smoking for a decade. Approximately ten years ago, a careless zoo visitor flicked a lit cigarette into Tori’s cage. Once Tori figured out how to smoke, she started asking zoo visitors for smokes.

She mimics humans by holding cigarettes casually between her fingers while visitors watch and photograph her puffing away and flicking ashes on the ground.

This has now become a game between Tori and zoo visitors. Didik, who never cared for this game, would rush over to stamp out the butts as soon as they landed in the orangutans cage

Tori was finally moved to her new area on the other side of the zoo to remove her not only from her cigarette source.

The move was made to the small island in the middle of a small lake inside the zoo after animal activists began to call for action to snuff out Tori’s smoking.

Both the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JJN) worked together to bring Tori to her new house and a new, smoke-free life.

The two other orangutans will be moved later to another island.

“Although there is posted signage indicating no food or cigarettes are to be given to the animals, the people are still doing it and make a fun of it. Sometimes the visitors try to hurt the animals,” continued Kristianto.

“The relocation is a permanent solution for this problem, and the new area provides better facilities that resemble their natural habitat in the wild. Tori can climb on five big trees in this island. This could be one of the best enclosures in Indonesia,” added Kristianto.

Hendarto said recent medical tests show the four primates are in good condition.

Tori won’t be the only animal receiving special treatment, of course. According to the press release, it appears as if the entire zoo will undergo some updates in the future.

“We are very pleased to hear Solo government’s plan to build Taru Jurug as modern as the zoos are in developed countries, so in the future there will be no animals behind the bars, but the animals will be put in the enclosure or in the open cage that resemble to the animal’s habitat. This system will make the animals have a good life and keep them out of reach from the visitors who love to tease them. The animals will have healthy and happy lives. This is much better than seeing stressful and suffering animals,” said Krisitanto.

Humans sometimes have an odd sense of humor. What some may find amusing, others find disturbing. This situation can be viewed as animal cruelty, but is it viewed that way by authorities in Indonesia where over 70% of the men there are smokers?

As Tori is weaned from cigarettes in the coming months, the Taru Jurug zoo will assign interpreters to inform zoo-goers about the health and well-being of the orangutans, as well as explain why Tori is now being kept in the middle of an island in the middle of a lake, just out of butt’s reach.[]


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