Animal rights activists have condemned staff at a zoo where an orangutan was filmed smoking and the footage of the incident has gone viral, BBC News reported.
The 22-year-old orangutan at Badun zoo started puffing at a cigarette when a visitor flicked a cigarette into his enclosure.
This sparked intense outrage, especially by animal rights activists who blamed the zoo staff for being negligent.
However, the zoo staff said the incident was regrettable, and that the guard may have been taking a break at the time. The zoo’s spokesperson said that measures to prevent this from happening are in place.
“There’s actually a sign at the location which says visitors are not allowed to give food and cigarettes to the animals,” said spokesperson Sulhan.
Indonesia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world and a bad record of animal protection.
Marison Guciano, founder of the Indonesia Animal Welfare Society, attacked the zoo’s management for “weak control”, but also criticised a wider lack of welfare standards at zoos.
“Almost all zoos are in poor condition… from the cages and feeding needs to the animals’ health,” he said.
There have been calls to shut the zoo, located 93 miles (150km) southeast of the capital Jakarta, since 2017.
The demands followed online footage of sun bears at Bandung seen looking thin and begging for food from visitors.
This is not the first time apes have been caught smoking in captivity.
In 2012 an orangutan named Tori at the Taru Jurug zoo in central Java learnt to smoke from picking up cigarette butts from visitors.
The zoo had to move the 15-year-old out of reach of visitors to put an end to her habit.
And in 2010, a South African chimpanzee named Charlie famous for his smoking habit died at the age of 52.
The staff had tried to get Charlie to quit for years but without success.