Captive Malaysian Orangutan Forced to Quit Smoking

Posted September 12th, 2011 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
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Authorities in Malaysia say a captive orangutan named Shirley, known for smoking cigarettes given to her by zoo visitors, has been quarantined as part of a push to force her to kick the habit .

The move comes just days after officials seized the 20-plus-year-old redhead from a state-run zoo in Malaysia's southern Johor state, along with several other animals that were found living in sub-standard conditions.

Authorities say Shirley has been temporarily relocated to a zoo in nearby Malacca state and is expected to be sent to a Malaysian wildlife center on Borneo island within weeks.

The zoo director in Malacca, Ahmad Azhar Mohammed, said Shirley is not being given any more cigarettes because smoking is not normal behavior for orangutans. He said she has undergone a series of medical tests, and that results are not yet complete.

The Associated press says the Britain-based animal rights group Nature Alert wrote to Malaysian officials about the ape earlier this year. The letter quoted conservationists as saying Shirley appeared to be suffering from severe mood swings and often seemed agitated without a cigarette.