Smoking Orangutan At Zoo Generates Worldwide Backlash, Zoo Has Faced Intense Criticism Previously

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A video of a smoking orangutan at a zoo has gone viral online and many are outraged by the incident. The video shows a man tossing a lit cigarette into the animal’s enclosure and the situation has sparked a petition calling for the zoo to be closed.

The viral smoking orangutan video was filmed on Sunday, March 4, at the Bandung Zoo in Indonesia, reported the Chicago Tribune. After the man tossed the lit cigarette into the orangutan enclosure, the animal picked it up and started puffing on it. The crowd was heard laughing in the video, but others around the world are not amused.

Time notes that the orangutan seen in the video is 22-year-old Ozon, and the incident is just the latest in a string of issues seen at the Bandung Zoo. Many will likely remember that the privately-held Indonesian facility previously made headlines over a video showing sun bears looking skeletal as they reached up toward visitors and begged for food.

The same zoo also was criticized over an incident involving an elephant’s death in May 2016. Yani, a 34-year-old Sumatran elephant seemingly cried as she struggled during her last days. It was discovered after her death that she was severely bruised and many felt that her death seemed mysterious and her treatment had been cruel.


With the incident involving the smoking orangutan, the young man who tossed the cigarette into Ozon’s enclosure technically is guilty of a crime. However, animal activist and founder of the Indonesia Animal Welfare Society Marison Guciano says that the Bandung Zoo bears responsibility because they lack proper supervision and education of its visitors.

An online petition advocating for the closure of the Indonesian zoo was started some time ago after earlier incidents and it is now garnering additional signatures with the orangutan situation. The petition has nearly one million signatures now, but so far, it doesn’t appear to have had a significant impact on the zoo’s operation.

Zoo spokesman Sulhan Syafi’I voiced regret for the incident having happened and the zoo is working with police to try to uncover the identity of the man who threw the cigarette to Ozon. There apparently are signs at the Bandung Zoo noting that visitors should not throw food or cigarettes to the animals, but many feel that the signs simply aren’t enough.

As the Jakarta Globe reported several years ago, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has given poor ratings to the majority of the zoos throughout Indonesia. Will the smoking orangutan incident finally spark change at the Bandung Zoo? Activists worldwide are keeping a close eye on this facility and advocating for change, but it’s unclear at this point whether they will have any success.