Orangutans go cold turkey: Tori,13, and Didik, 23, orangutans at Taru Jurug Zoo, Surakarta, have been relocated an island in the center of the zoo’s lake to keep them out of reach of zoo visitors who toss lit cigarettes to them. The two were moved to the island on Saturday. (JP/Kusumasari Ayuningtyas)
Two orangutans at Taru Jurug Zoo, Surakarta, Central Java, have been forced to give up smoking after being relocated to an isolated area within the zoo.
According to the zoo’s president director Lilik Kristianto, the orangutans -- Tori,13, and Didik, 23 -- were relocated to an island in the zoo’s manmade lake on Saturday.
“At first they looked anxious and drained, but after two days they looked better and have started to play in the trees on the 300-square-meter area,” Lilik said.
He added that after supervising the orangutans, it was concluded that they smoked only when people gave them cigarettes. “They are not yet addicted to smoking,” he said.
The two orangutans’ case was revealed after a local TV news program showed footage of orangutans at the zoo lighting one cigarette stub from another, like a chain-smoker.
Tori, who has resided at the zoo since a baby, was encouraged to smoke by visitors who often threw lit cigarettes into the apes’ enclosure on a daily basis.
“We have supervised the visitors, but how can we control and warn them every time?” Lilik said.
On July 3, the Center for Orangutan Protection (COP) from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) took blood samples of Tori and Didik and discovered that they had hepatitis and tuberculosis.
“We should focus on disciplining visitors. We have put up signs prohibiting visitors from throwing cigarettes into the apes’ enclosure, but they keep doing it when nobody is looking. They think smoking orangutans are funny, hence they do it over and over again without knowing that the outcome could be fatal,” COP conservation program coordinator Daniek Hendarto said.
He added that isolating Tori and Didik could be a permanent solution to keep them away from further harm. (iwa)