North Korea Zoo Has a Smoking Chimp

Of course it does
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2016 2:07 PM CDT
North Korea Zoo Has a Smoking Chimp
Azalea, a 19-year-old female chimpanzee whose Korean name is "Dallae," smokes a cigarette at the Central Zoo in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Azalea the chimpanzee can touch her nose, take a thank-you bow, and do a little jig. She can also put away a pack of cigarettes a day from her post at North Korea's Central Zoo, which has crowds cheering and animal activists jeering, the Guardian reports. Azalea, known as "Dallae" by the locals, is a 19-year-old chimp at Pyongyang's newly revamped zoo, per the New York Daily News, and while there are plenty of novelty attractions to be seen there—including a monkey that slam-dunks basketballs and doves that put on a stage show—it's the chimp who's garnered the most attention with her carcinogenic habit, complete with a trainer who appears to egg her on.

And that isn't going over well with everyone, especially considering the zoo has been confronted with animal cruelty accusations in the past—a TripAdvisor review said conditions for the animals were "very poor," while a Lonely Planet description once pegged the animals there as looking "pretty forlorn," per the Telegraph. "This exemplifies the problem with any captive wildlife displayed for profit," says the director of litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. "They are made to do unnatural and freakish things to attract gawkers." But although Azalea is able to use a lighter on her own (or the old chain-smoking method of lighting up from an already lit cigarette), this "expert" smoker doesn't inhale, the zoo insists, meaning her health is supposedly just fine. (More North Korea stories.)

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