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A shocking video has emerged showing the moment an orangutan puffs on a cigarette in front of zoo visitors.
The footage, which was captured at the attraction in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, in Vietnam, shows the male primate as he holds the lit cigarette as a human smoker would.
He then takes two long drags before stubbing it out on some stones, causing those behind the camera to burst out laughing.
It appears that the orangutan is an expert at the habit, as he even checks the butt to ensure it is properly out before throwing it away.
However, a spokesperson for the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens claims that the orangutan had not been given a cigarette by staff and instead had found it after it was thrown in by a guest.
"People often throw things into the animals' cages and the orangutan learns how to use these objects by seeing how people use them," they said.
According to their statement, the security guards do not have the time to keep a constant check on what's happening, but once the footage had gone viral they checked to make sure there were no more cigarettes in the primate's cage and other enclosures in the facility.
A local newspaper later reported many examples of people throwing rubbish in the animal cages despite notices warning them not to do so.
Numerous people have criticised the incident online, with one writing: "Poor thing locked up and copying human traits. I don't find funny just sad at what we do to these obviously intelligent animals."
Another said: "I guess someone showed the orangutan how to smoke. I’ve seen it done before. Appalling. I guess it makes the humans feel more powerful, that they’ve addicted this being to a harmful substance."
"A visitor to the HCMC zoo caught on video last Friday a male Borneo orangutan expertly smoking a cigarette and stubbing it out on the ground. WTF," added a third.
Poor thing locked up and copying human traits. I don't find funny just sad at what we do to these obviously intelligent animals.— Theberyl#theperyl# (@TTheperyl) June 20, 2022
Orangutans are critically endangered, the main reason being the destruction and degradation of the tropical rain forest in Borneo and Sumatra.
According to the Orangutan Foundation, another factor has been the the illegal animal trade, causing populations in the wild to decrease significantly in recent years and leading to concerns that the species may become extinct.
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