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Video of Smoking Orangutan Goes Viral

In this image made from video, an adult male orangutan smokes a cigarette in its enclosure at Bandung Zoo in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, Sunday, March 4, 2018. (AP Photo)
Video of Smoking Orangutan Goes Viral
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This is What’s Trending Today…

Video of an orangutan smoking a cigarette at an Indonesian zoo has gone viral. The footage led to renewed criticism of the zoo, which has been accused of mistreating animals in the past.

The video was shot Sunday by a visitor at Bandung Zoo, about 150 kilometers southeast of the capital, Jakarta. In it, a zoo visitor is seen throwing his lighted cigarette into the outdoor enclosure where the orangutans are kept.

A large, 22-year-old orangutan finds and picks up the cigarette and puts it to his mouth. Repeatedly, the animal is clearly shown breathing in smoke, then blowing it out. Some people can be heard laughing when the orangutan starts smoking.

But some animal rights activists did not find the video funny. They say it provides more evidence of poor supervision and animal control problems at the zoo.

Marison Guciano is an animal rights activist and founder of the Indonesia Animal Welfare Society. In a Facebook post, he admitted that the visitor was wrong for throwing the cigarette to the orangutan. But, he said a lack of supervision and education for visitors by zoo management is also a big problem. “Indonesia desperately needs animal welfare standards in its zoos,” Guciano said.

A spokesman for the zoo said officials "much regretted” what happened with the smoking orangutan. He added that signs posted at the zoo warn visitors to not feed animals or give them cigarettes.

In the past, news reports have exposed starving and sick animals at Bandung Zoo. It was briefly closed in 2016 after a Sumatran elephant that died was found to have been poorly cared for and had evidence of beating on its body.

A petition calling for Bandung Zoo to be closed has been signed by nearly 1 million people. The activist organization says tourists regularly report that animals kept at the zoo appear severely underweight and weak.

Indonesia is known for having a high smoking rate among its population. A World Health Organization (WHO) study found that in 2015, an estimated 76 percent of Indonesian males smoked.

In 2010, video of a 2-year-old Indonesian boy heavily smoking got international attention. Years later, at age 8, the boy spoke to the media about his cigarette addiction. But he said that after a long battle and much treatment, he had finally managed to quit.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

renew v. to begin again

enclosure n. an area that surrounded by a wall, fence, etc.

desperately adv. done with much strength or energy and with little hope of succeeding

expose v. reveal something hidden, dishonest, etc.

addiction n. a strong and harmful need to have something

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