Tori, an orangutan in an Indonesian zoo, is about to give up a habit he has indulged in for the best part of a decade: smoking. The 15-year-old primate has been puffing on cigarettes at Taru Jurug Zoo for two-thirds of his life, but is now set to go cold turkey.
Tori has become something of a tourist attraction, with visitors often throwing lit cigarettes into his compound. Photographing the teenage orangutan as he flicks ash and blows smoke through his nostrils (the primates are known to mimic human behavior) has proven a popular pastime for guffawing, self-serving idiots at the zoo.
But now, after growing scrutiny over a number of animal deaths in Indonesian zoos, zookeepers have said they plan to move Tori away from visitors who regularly supply cigarettes. Hardi Baktiantoro of the Borneo-based Center for Orangutan Protection, which is assisting with the intervention, said a mesh cover will initially be placed over Tori’s cage. The primate will be moved to a small island away from the public shortly thereafter.
Orangutans are an endangered species – only 50,000 remain in the wild – so Taru Jurug director Lili Krisdianto said the move was crucial to protect the four orangutans kept at the 14-hectare (35-acre) zoo in the Central Java town of Solo.
As Tori begins his spell in rehab, results of medical tests determining how the smoking has affected his health are expected Saturday, added Baktiantoro.
In Indonesia, Toro is hardly alone in his love of cigarettes: over 60 percent of all men light up and a third of the country’s entire population smokes.