Lifestyle & Belief

Shirley, an orangutan in Malaysia, is forced to quit smoking


This is not Shirley the smoking orangutan. . . An orangutan protects himself from the cold with a blanket provided by vets at Rio de Janeiro's zoo on July 11, 2011



Authorities in Malaysia have forced an orangutan to quit smoking after the ape, named Shirley, was repeated found with cigarettes.

A Malaysian wildlife official told the Associated Press Shirley, who is more than 20 years old and a redhead, was often seen with cigarettes given to her by zoo visitors.

"Smoking is not normal behavior for orangutans," Melaka Zoo Director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed told the AP. "I would say she is not addicted ... but she might have formed a habit after mimicking human beings who were smoking around her."

A British activist group Nature Alert complained to authorities about Shirley earlier in the year. The activists said conservationists who visited the state-run zoo in Malaysia's southern Johor state often saw visitors throw lit cigarettes to Shirley. The group added that Shirley expressed abnormal behaviors such as mood swings, looking drowsy and appearing agitated without a cigarette.

Authorities stepped in and decided that the conditions at the state-run zoo were not good enough. They removed Shirley as well as a tiger and baby elephant.

The ape is now being kept at Melaka Zoo in a neighboring state and should be sent to a Malaysian wildlife center on Borneo island soon, reports AFP. Orangutans can still be found living in the wild on Borneo island.