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Orangutan smokes cigarette thrown by zoo visitor

By Ben Hooper

March 9 (UPI) -- An Indonesian zoo is facing sharp criticism online after a video emerged showing an orangutan picking up a visitor's tossed cigarette and smoking it.

The video, posted to Facebook by animal rights activist Marison Guaciano, shows a visitor to the Bandung Zoo throw a lit cigarette into the orangutan enclosure, where one of the animals picks it up and starts to puff.

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"Visitors do not know how to deal with animals, but the lack of supervision by zoo management is equally lacking, and is one of the issues which must be addressed," Guaciano said. "Indonesia desperately needs animal welfare standards in its zoos."

Guaciano, a prominent animal rights activist in Indonesia and director of the Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group, said the zoo is fraught with issues.

"I know this orangutan's name, it is Ozon. I am very sad and angry to see the visitor throw a cigarette into the orangutan enclosure," he told website Gulf Today. "This visitor is clearly ignorant. But, really, I blame the management of Bandung zoo; it does not take sufficient care of the animals or care about their quality of life, or how visitors interact with them."

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"The government does not make it a priority to standardize animal welfare standards across zoos. So, everyone is at fault: government, zoo management, and visitors," Guaciano said. "Orangutans are intelligent creatures. I do not know if he has ever smoked. But it could be that the orangutan imitates visitors who often come close to his enclosure."

A representative for the zoo said a guard is usually present at the enclosure, but may have been on break at the time of the video. They said there are signs posted in the facility asking visitors not to give food or cigarettes to the animals.

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